Trump’s Deal of the Century a.k.a The Jordan Option

by Ted Belman

Originally published on Israpundit on Oct 17, 2018

This deal originated with Mudar Zahran and Ted Belman.

Very few people, if any, believe that Pres. Trump will succeed with his Deal of the Century, but I do.

Nor do they know what that deal is or when it will be tabled. But they do know that the US under his leadership is acting unilaterally to neuter the UN, UNRWA and the PA. They also know he acted unilaterally to kill the climate hoax and the Iran Deal and to change free trade into fair trade.

In explaining his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel he stressed that he was just recognizing reality.

In a recent interview, Jason Greenblatt, Pres Trump’s special envoy, said “our plan begins with reality. It recognizes the history of the conflict of course, but [other plans] were always relying on tired notions of what it should be. Instead, it focuses on what it could be.”

Thus, I assume that the Palestinian narrative that has driven the peace process and world opinion for fifty years will be severely undermined and replaced with a reality-based process and history starting with the Palestine Mandate. Greenblatt is mindful of the fact that this narrative was crafted by the KGB in its consultations with Arafat in the sixties and afterwards. They invented the Palestinian people as a means to cast the Arabs as the oppressed and the Israelis as the oppressors.

The basis for the Plan will be the signing of the Palestine Mandate in 1922. This mandate split Palestine into two mandates under British rule, namely Arab Palestine (Transjordan) which received 78% of the land and Jewish Palestine  (Israel) which received the remaining 22%. Britain tried to further divide the 22%, most notably in the UN Partition Plan of 1947, without success. The UNGA passed the resolution pursuant to which, Israel declared independence. The Arabs rejected it and declared war on Israel thereby ending their opportunity for creating an Arab state on the part allocated to them.

Mudar Zahran, the leader of the Opposition Coalition of Jordan, recognizes this history when he says, as he did to a recent session of the EU Parliament, that the only occupation going on is the Hashemite occupation of Palestinian land, namely Jordan, ever since Jordan’s independence in 1946.

International law recognizes Israel’s right to claim sovereignty over the entire 22%. In addition, Israel cemented this right by their victory over the Arabs in the ’67 War.

No doubt this history will inform the design of the Plan.

Greenblatt went on to articulate a red line, if you will, saying “we will not put forth a plan or endorse a plan that doesn’t meet all of Israel’s security issues because they are of extreme importance to us“ and “Israel is going to have to be comfortable that what we put forth in the plan does not put Israel at risk.” The Palestinians must accept this as fundamental to the Plan and be “comfortable” with it.

Thus, we can safely assume that Israel will not have to withdraw the IDF from any lands west of the Jordan River. You will recall that Obama wanted to limit their presence in the Jordan valley to a number of decades only.

In explaining why he is putting all this effort into achieving peace when there are bigger problems in the Middle east, namely Syria and Iran, Greenblatt said,

“we think that there are unique circumstances now that warrant an attempt at trying to see whether or not we can do this. President Trump, as devoted and dedicated to the State of Israel and the Jewish people as he is, he’s also dedicated to trying to help the Palestinian people, and the way we can marry those two ideas is by trying to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.”

Thus, he is guided by two goals. He wants to strengthen Israel and he wants to help the Palestinian people. As he said, “We do believe that many Palestinians want to live in peace, and they want to see their lives improved.”

So how can he marry these goals. He said, “Thus we must abandon all the old formulae and focus on what is doable”.

Taking all the foregoing into account, I believe that the Plan will recognize the original division of Palestine into Jordan as the Palestinian state and Israel as the Jewish state. These states already have a peace agreement in which the agreed border is the Jordan River.

So far so good. But what will happen with the two million Palestinians, all of whom have Jordanian citizenship, living west of the Jordan River?  Presently, these Palestinians live for the most part in Areas A and B (1.4 million), Area C (100,000) and Jerusalem (350,000) as defined by the Oslo Accords.

According to a very well-informed source (and reiterated in 2022) , the administration of the A areas, will pass from the PA to Jordan. These areas include, Tulkarn, Qalkilya, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho. The B areas will be absorbed into the C area in order to remove the Swiss cheese effect. Hebron, on the other hand will be administered by a joint local council made up of Israelis and Palestinians. This is the Confederation that Abbas rejected a few weeks ago

In late August,  U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told members of the American Jewish Congress that “there is no capacity to have peace with the Palestinians unless there’s peace with all the Palestinians, including the million and a half in Gaza.”

My source also tells me that the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip will be given the option of being in a confederation either with Jordan or Egypt. Either way, negotiating a Gaza truce is part of the deal.

This means that the PA will be done away with because its primary function is to wage war against Israel’s legitimacy

All Palestinians living west of the River will be seen as both Jordanian citizens and foreign residents. There will be no need to give them Israeli citizenship.

Israel would then be free to build without restraint in the expanded Area C and in other ways exercise its sovereignty on all lands west of the Jordan R.

In effect, all Arabs will remain where they are and will continue to work in Israel. The only difference will be that they have to give up their aspirations for a Palestinian state west of the Jordan R and accept that Jordan is the Palestinian state.

Jordan and Israel will negotiate separate agreements dealing with joint economic relations and joint military arrangements.

The existing Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) in which Israeli companies currently produce goods in Jordan which are sold to the US free of tariffs, will be expanded and improved. Other job creating joint ventures will be set up. These jobs will be available to all Palestinians who emigrate to Jordan. Expectations are that many Palestinians living west of the river will emigrate to Jordan to avail themselves of these jobs.

In The Jordan Option promoted by Mudar Zahran and me, I proposed that Jordan build a city for 1 million people and that these homes be given to the Palestinians who emigrate. I am informed by this source that Jordan is a welfare state that guarantees housing to all citizens. Jordan will start with building an extra 500,000 units to accommodate the influx of citizens. Thus, this too will induce many Palestinians to emigrate to Jordan.

It should be made clear that Israel will not be party to or countenance forced ethnic cleansing.

There is also talk about joint military planning between Israel and Jordan. In effect Jordan military will become an extension of the IDF. Jordan may also be the buyer of the 100 F-16s that Israel now wishes to sell.

UNRWA will be scuttled. The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq will be invited to move to Jordan as full citizens thereby ending their refugee status.

Mudar Zahran is also committed to Muslims and Jews sharing the Temple Mount. The Muslim Holy Place will be the Al Aqsa Mosque and the lands immediately surrounding it and the rest of the Temple Mount will be a Jewish Holy Place

Many Israelis will not be happy with the fact that the Arabs will remain but at least there will be no obligation to offer them a path to citizenship. Furthermore, this deal will do away with the Palestinian narrative which is the cause of so much disloyalty among Arab Israelis.

As Greenblatt said, the Palestinians and the Israelis must decide, “Will we be better off with this plan or continuing without it?” I believe, on balance, that both the Israelis and the Palestinians will accept the Plan. The Israelis hunger for an end of conflict agreement and the Palestinians are sick and tired of living under the corrupt oppressive PA rule and under the King’s rule as the case may be. They are hungry for change and normalization.

As for the Arab world, Greenblatt said, “We’re also hopeful that we can count on their support, and I use the word ”support” rather than “approval”. Thus, he doesn’t expect them to publicly accept the Plan but he does expect them to not undermine its acceptance.

Both Abbas and King Abdullah have publicly rejected any such plan. Assuming no change of heart on their part, they will be replaced. Mudar Zahran is waiting on the sidelines. He most certainly accepts such a plan.

Conventional wisdom has it that Israel would never agree to ousting Abdullah. After all, as the theory goes, the border has been quiet for 30 years. But increasingly, Israel sees Abdullah as an obstructionist just like Abbas. I think that Israel is ready for change, especially if change leads to a resolution of the conflict.

Conventional wisdom also suggests that if Mudar Zahran becomes the leader of Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose world headquarters is in Jordan, would oust him from power within 24 hours. In this, it is also wrong. Within the said 24 hours, Zahran will designate it a terrorist organization and ban it. In this, he would have the support of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Israel and the US.

Finally, I would like to point out that this Plan is the exact plan envisaged and promoted by Mudar and me in the last 18 months. We called it the Jordan Option.

I believe that this deal will be accepted and will be seen as the Deal of the Century.

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