Just makes you wonder why Mr Friedman doesn’t run for Office doesn’t it?
Abdullah II: The 5-State Solution
In February 2002, I traveled to Saudi Arabia and interviewed the then crown prince, now king, Abdullah, at his Riyadh horse farm. I asked him why the next Arab summit wouldn’t just propose to Israel full peace and normalization of relations, by all 22 Arab states, for full withdrawal from all occupied lands and creation of a Palestinian state. Abdullah said that I had read his mind (“Have you broken into my desk?” he asked me) and that he was about to propose just that, which he later did, giving birth to the “Abdullah peace plan.”
Unfortunately, neither the Bush team nor Israel ever built upon the Abdullah plan. And the Saudi leader always stopped short of presenting his ideas directly to the Israeli people. Since then, everything has deteriorated.
So, I’ve wondered lately what King Abdullah would propose if asked to update his plan. I’ve even probed whether he’d like to do another interview, but he is apparently reticent. Not one to be deterred, I’ve decided to do the next best thing: read his mind again. Here is my guess at the memo King Abdullah has in his drawer for President Obama. I’d call it: “Abdullah II: The Five-State Solution for Arab-Israeli peace.”
Dear President Obama,
Congratulations on your inauguration and for quickly dispatching your new envoy, George Mitchell, a good man, to the Middle East. I wish Mitchell could resume where he left off eight years ago, but the death of Arafat, the decline of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war in Lebanon, the 2009 Hamas-Israel war in Gaza, the continued expansion of colonial Israeli settlements and the deepening involvement of Iran with Hamas and Hezbollah have all created a new reality.
Specifically, the Palestinian Authority is in no position today to assume control of the West Bank, Hamas is incapable of managing Gaza and the introduction of rockets provided by Iran to Hamas has created a situation whereby Israel won’t turn over the West Bank to any Palestinians now because it fears Hamas would use it to launch rockets on Israel’s international airport. But if we do nothing, Zionist settlers would devour the rest of the West Bank and holy Jerusalem. What can be done?
I am proposing what I would call a five-state solution:
1. Israel agrees in principle to withdraw from every inch of the West Bank and Arab districts of East Jerusalem, as it has from Gaza. Any territories Israel might retain in the West Bank for its settlers would have to be swapped — inch for inch — with land from Israel proper.
2. The Palestinians — Hamas and Fatah — agree to form a national unity government. This government then agrees to accept a limited number of Egyptian troops and police to help Palestinians secure Gaza and monitor its borders, as well as Jordanian troops and police to do the same in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority would agree to five-year “security assistance programs” with Egypt in Gaza and with Jordan in the West Bank.
With Egypt and Jordan helping to maintain order, Palestinians could focus on building their own credible security and political institutions to support their full independence at the end of five years.
3. Israel would engage in a phased withdrawal over these five years from all of its settlements in the West Bank and Arab Jerusalem — except those agreed to be granted to Israel as part of land swaps — at the same pace that the Palestinians meet the security and governance metrics agreed to in advance by all the parties. The U.S. would be the sole arbiter of whether the metrics have been met by both sides.
4. Saudi Arabia would pay all the costs of the Egyptian and Jordanian trustees, plus a $1 billion a year service fee to each country — as well as all the budgetary needs of the Palestinian Authority. The entire plan would be based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 and blessed by the U.N. Security Council.
The virtues of this five-state solution — Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia — are numerous: Egypt and Jordan, the Arab states that have peace treaties with Israel, would act as transition guarantors that any Israeli withdrawal would not leave a security vacuum in the West Bank, Gaza or Arab Jerusalem that could threaten Israel. Israel would have time for a phased withdrawal of its settlements, and Palestinians would have the chance to do nation-building in an orderly manner. This would be an Arab solution that would put a stop to Iran’s attempts to Persianize the Palestinian issue.
President Obama, too much has been broken to go straight back to the two-state solution. It would be like trying to build a house with bricks but no cement. There’s no trust and no framework to build it. Israelis and Palestinians need the kind of cement that only Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan can provide. It would give Israelis security and Palestinians a clear pathway to an independent state.
I hope you will give careful consideration to the five-state solution.
Peace be upon you,
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
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