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Palestine exits centre stage - enter Jordan

By David Singer - posted Friday, 3 October 2008

The first Presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama remarkably failed to raise or even mention their future involvement in President Bush's proposal to create a new Arab State between Israel and Jordan.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo and eliminating America's reliance on oil from the Middle East were all raised during a wide ranging discussion on American foreign policy. Israel was fleetingly mentioned by the contestants as they jointly pledged their determination to ensure that Iran's threat to eliminate the Jewish State would never be allowed to happen.

Palestine and President Bush's Roadmap were left out in the political wilderness.


This apparent lack of enthusiasm by both McCain and Obama indicates the sobering reality that President Bush's Roadmap has reached a dead end so far as America's future involvement in trying to bring this six-year-old vision to fruition is concerned. No doubt there will be occasions during the remainder of the Presidential campaign when efforts are made to engage McCain and Obama but their responses will be half hearted at the best.

This stalemate has certainly not been reached for want of trying.

President Bush - like Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior and Clinton before him - invested a large amount of his authority, prestige, personal time and active involvement in attempting to bring peace between Jews and Arabs. All of them have ended up being humiliated and getting egg on their face for their efforts.

The stumbling block this time - according to the Arabs - is the Jewish cities towns and villages established in the West Bank since 1967 mainly on State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes - collectively called "the settlements".

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority once again repeated his mantra in front of the United Nations Security Council this week when declaring: "Settlement activity is not only an obstacle but it risks undermining the peace process."

Abbas stubbornly continues to reject Israel's offer to resettle 70,000 Jews and to cede an area of land from within its own sovereign state boundaries to compensate for the retention of those remaining settlements that house 400,000 Jews and businesses in the West Bank. Abbas wants all the Jews tossed out and is apparently prepared to throw away the opportunity to get his State if he does not get his way.


The stumbling block this time - according to Israel - is the Arab insistence that millions of Arab refugees and their descendants be resettled in Israel - rather than in the new West Bank State.

President Bush has come down heavily in support of Israel's stance on both issues recognising that the removal of all Jews from the West Bank and the resettlement of millions of Arabs in Israel is simply not going to be agreed to - and can never be agreed to - by Israel.

A last ditch stand by America to try and modify both of these Arab demands over the past ten months has met with embarrassing failure. Both of these contentious issues have been pressed by the Arabs for the last 40 years and nothing has occurred in Arab thinking to change or moderate them over that period.

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at

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