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Floating another boat to Palestinian prosperity...

Reader comment on item: Israeli Victory, Palestinian Prosperity

Submitted by D Cripps (United Kingdom), Jun 25, 2022 at 05:21

I hope this late comment is not time-wasting...

Recently, MEMRI presented translated excerpts from an article by Saudi political analyst 'Ali Al-Shihabi: https://www.memri.org/reports/saudi-analyst-article-al-arabiya-website-solution-palestine-problem-naturalizing. In the words of the MEMRI editor: "The Palestinians, he argues, must reconcile themselves to reality and accept the fact of Israel's existence. Moreover, they must realize that what they crucially need is not to regain their ancestral land but rather to have a globally-respected citizenship that will allow them to operate and thrive in the modern world. The most feasible way to achieve this, he says, is to make them citizens of an expanded Jordanian-Palestinian kingdom that will incorporate the West Bank and Gaza, while withdrawing recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. He also suggests granting Jordanian citizenship to the Palestinians living in other countries, who can continue to live in those countries as legal foreign residents with full civil rights."

MEMRI also documented angry reactions to this article, along with Mr Shihabi's responses to these: https://www.memri.org/reports/angry-responses-social-media-and-arab-press-article-saudi-journalist-ali-al-shihabi-calling. MEMRI did not mention popular support for the idea, but is Mr Shihabi really so alone in this viewpoint among relevant populations and politicians, I wonder?

Along similar lines, it has seemed to me that (due to proximity) a sound eventual resolution to the matter of Palestinian statehood might be for Egypt to get Gaza and Jordan to get negotiated areas of the West Bank, and stateless Palestinians to get statehood through citizenship of Egypt or Jordan: functional states. (I understand that Egypt found Gaza a hot potato due to Hamas and similar; and the PLO and alike would be a bane for Jordan.)

I have wondered... Despite the dust-up between Mr Shihabi and critics of his idea, might there be some stateless Palestinians who can or do exist without thought that demographic or other destruction of Israel should be part of their goal, and who think his idea or similar would be at least worth further consideration? Are there actual current differences in the political, social, cultural or other systems of Egypt and Jordan vis-à-vis Gaza and the PA's West Bank that would make citizenship of these states an abhorrent change to stateless Palestinians? Is there something about stateless Palestinians that irreconcilably alarms and would incur real problems to present populations and governments of Egypt and Jordan, were the former and their territories to be accommodated by the latter states?

Senior Saudi analyst Khaled Al-Dakhil tweeted in his objection that "Israel will not agree to have a state of that size [i.e, an expanded Jordanian kingdom, as proposed by Al-Shihabi] on its border." Is that really so? He also tweeted "Mr. 'Ali, the problem is not recognizing reality or Israel. Since '77 Arab states have been normalizing relations with Israel, yet it has not changed its positions or its policy towards the Palestinians or the Arabs. Normalization for nothing is no longer the solution. Moreover, the Palestinian problem is also an Israeli problem. Why should the Arabs undertake to resolve it for Israel for free?" Is it worth finding out what "the Arabs" would want in exchange, I wonder? Businessman 'Odeh Aburdene commented: "Ali this is a grotesque fantasy unless Israel gives up the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem which I do not see on the horizon. Israel's desire to keep large part of Area E 1. will make your proposal dead in the water." Senior Saudi journalist Khaled Al-Ma'eena opined, "The Zionists will never stop their advance. The Quislings in the #Arab world will be the first they will trample on." Would official or semi-official Israeli responses to these objections be helpful, I wonder?

I do not know where Ali Shihabi (as his website anglicises his name) is based but I gather he "is a graduate of Princeton University with a BA in politics and of the Harvard Business School with an MBA" and has published in the US press: https://alishihabi.com.

Many people may be familiar with versions of an observation once described by Nicholas Klein, speaking at a convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in 1918, as: "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you." Of course, some ideas never get past one of the first three stages; and of the last, we could dispense with monuments, it being success that counts. Arriving at this stage would have required a mass turning against the Israelcidal Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PLO, etc, as flies in the ointment, so that Palestinian jihadis and other active Islamists dwindle away or otherwise buzz off. Meanwhile, keeping Mr Shihabi's idea (or similar) afloat and discussed might enable it eventually to pass the ignoring, ridiculing and attacking stages....I guess that, if ever that occurred, this might similarly be a point when willingness for peace would make feasible a separate Palestinian state.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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