March 26, 2019

The True-State Solution

“The Trump administration has offered tantalizing clues about its forthcoming “Deal of the Century” for Mideast peace. It could be a bold new concept—replacing the failed “two-state solution” with a Jordan-Israel confederacy, in which Jordan would be recognized as the Palestinian state. Call it the true-state solution.

Palestinians have always been the majority in Jordan, though they haven’t been treated as such since its creation as a British-appointed Hashemite monarchy in 1921. The true-state solution would enfranchise the Palestinians. Jordan would extend citizenship to, and assume administrative responsibility for, Arabs now living on the West Bank of the Jordan River—including the cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho—which would be Israeli territory. West Bank Jordanians could receive financial support to relocate across the river to Jordan itself if they wish, or remain as permanent residents (but not citizens) of Israel. Israelis would be free to live anywhere west of the Jordan River. Variations of this “Jordan option” have received increasing attention across the region in recent years.

Why would King Abdullah II accept such an arrangement? To be blunt, it would be his best option. His rule—and his family’s security and fortune—already teeters under pressure of regional migration and domestic Palestinian discontent. The king’s acquiescence—or possibly U.S.-guided abdication—would probably buy his family’s protection.

Trump administration officials have promised their plan will take advantage of Israel’s recent unprecedented collaboration with its Arab neighbors and other developments that suggest “things can be done today that were previously unthinkable,” as then-Ambassador Nikki Haley said last month. The administration promises a new approach based on practical realities.”

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