Jordan, After All

The establishment of a Palestinian state that would border on Jordan may actually be more of a threat to the Hashmite kingdom than it is to Israel.


By Moshe Arens

(A version of this column appeared in Haaretz on June 7, 2006.)

In politics as in business, setting the goal has to precede developing a strategy for attaining the goal. That was clear to the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, when he declared from the start that the goal of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish state; and it was clear to Ze’ev Jabotinsky when, feeling that the Zionist movement had lost sight of this goal, he introduced a motion at the Zionist Congress in Basel in 1931, affirming that the aim of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. When the congress refused to approve this motion, he climbed on a chair and, in view of the delegates, tore up his delegate’s card, declaring that “this is no Zionist Congress.”

It was the beginning of the split between him and his Revisionist movement and the Zionist Organization.

Eleven years later, at a Zionist conference held at the Biltmore Hotel in New York in 1942, in the presence of Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion, the Zionist establishment put forth the demand for the establishment of a “Jewish Commonwealth” in Palestine. From there, the path to the fulfillment of this goal was difficult but straightforward.

What is the relevance of all this to Israel in 2006? The present Israeli government is led by Kadima, a party that declares that its goal is the establishment of a Palestinian state in Palestine. Is this our goal at this time? Is it really in Israel’s interests, and should our strategy be designed to achieve this goal?

The leader of Kadima, our current prime minister, insists that he is a student of Jabotinsky’s teachings and that this goal is consistent with Jabotinsky’s ideology. What is more, unilateral withdrawals, uprooting of Jewish settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state are, according to him, the lifeline that needs to be thrown to Zionism in order to save it from extinction.

Of course, we have no way of knowing what Jabotinsky might have thought of substituting, for his goal of the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in Palestine, so it is best to leave him out of this discussion, and examine the new goal that is being set for Zionism on its own merits.

Surely a better definition of a goal for the State of Israel would be assuring the security of the state and its citizens against the threats directed against them. Then logic would require us to examine whether the establishment of a Palestinian state is a necessary corollary of this goal.

On closer examination, this hardly seems plausible. A Palestinian state on Israel’s doorstep – whether ruled by Hamas, or Mahmoud Abbas, or in a state of anarchy run by competing militias – is hardly likely to enhance the security of Israel.

We are getting a preliminary foretaste of what this would mean from the recent developments in the Gaza Strip, following the unilateral withdrawal last August from Gush Katif and the settlements south of Ashkelon.

To declare that this should be Israel’s goal seems preposterous, and to assume that completing the fence will provide adequate protection for Israel’s citizens against the terrorists on the other side of the fence and immunity for Israel from mass infiltration of Palestinians into Israel is ridiculous. If our goal is enhancing our ability to fight terrorism, this Palestinian state is hardly consistent with that goal. The mantra that is generally put forth, that there is no alternative, is patently untrue. Seek and ye shall find.

Once we have made it clear to ourselves that fighting terrorism is our goal, we can stop chasing the chimera of a Palestinian state, discard “two states for two nations” and other such nonsensical slogans, and begin to look around for allies in our war against terrorism. We don’t have to look far. Just next door, the Kingdom of Jordan is engaged in a struggle for its survival against terrorism.

And what a surprise: The establishment of a Palestinian state that would border on Jordan may actually be more of a threat to Jordan than it is to Israel.

For obvious reasons, their spokesmen may not announce it from the rooftops, but they share a common goal with us.

Their opposition to the Israeli government’s plans for unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria is a pretty good indication of their view of things. So it is quite likely that we can work with them on a common strategy – in secret, of course.

It will surely be quite different than the one presently being pursued by the renegades from the Likud who are trying to reinvent Jabotinsky’s ideology.

There will be little room for a Palestinian state in that strategy.

Translate »