An Israeli Love Story
NOT SINCE the resurrection of Jesus Christ has there been such a miracle: a dead body buried in a cave has come to life again.
"Jordanian Option" gave up its ghost almost twenty years ago. Even
before that, it never was very healthy. But in 1988, some time after the
outbreak of the first intifada, it was
officially buried by none other than His Majesty, King Hussein, himself. He
announced that he had given up any claim to the
It was a pitiful death. There was no proper funeral. Shimon Peres, one of its parents, pretended not to know the deceased. Yitzhak Rabin turned his back. From dust it came, to dust it returned.
suddenly, it seems to have sprung to life again. Three wandering scribblers claim
to have seen it with their own eyes. Not in Emmaeus,
where the three apostles of Jesus saw their resurrected master, but in
THE ISRAELI love
story with the Hashemite dynasty started three generations ago. (Hashem was the founder of the
The British army
returned the Hashemites to power in
Issam Sartawi, one of
the PLO leaders, a refugee from Acre who grew up in
But the relations
with the Hashemites continued. On the eve of the 1948
war, the Zionist leadership kept in close contact with King Abdallah
between Abdallah and Ben-Gurion bore the hoped-for
fruit: the territory that was allotted by the UN to the putative Palestinian
Arab state was partitioned between
At that time, the
tide of pan-Arab nationalism was running high, and Gamal
Abd-el-Nasser, its prophet, was the idol of the Arab
world. The Palestinian people, who had been deprived of a political identity, also
saw its salvation in an all-Arab entity. There was a danger that the Jordanian
king might be toppled any minute, but
Things reached a
climax during Black September (1970), when Hussein crushed the PLO forces in
blood and fire. The Syrians rushed to their defense and started to cross the
border. In coordination with Henry Kissinger, Golda Meir issued an ultimatum:
if the Syrians did not retreat at once, the Israeli army would enter. The
Syrians gave up, the king was saved. The PLO forces went to
At the height of
the crisis, I called upon the Israeli government in the Knesset to adopt the
opposite course: to enable the Palestinians in the West Bank to set up a
Palestinian state side by side with
THE JORDANIAN OPTION was more than a political concept - it was a love story. For decades, almost all Israeli leaders were enamored of it - from Chaim Weizmann to David Ben-Gurion, from Golda to Peres.
What did the Hashemite family have that enchanted the Zionist and Israeli establishment?
In the course of the years I have heard many rational-sounding arguments. But I am convinced that at root it was not rational at all. The one decisive virtue of the Hashemite Dynasty was - and is - quite simple: they are not Palestinians.
From its first
day, the Zionist movement has lived in total denial of the Palestinian issue.
As long as possible, it denied the very existence of the Palestinian people. Since
this has become ridiculous, it denies the existence of a Palestinian partner
for peace. In any case, it denies the possibility of a viable Palestinian state
This denial has deep roots in the unconscious of the Zionist movement and the Israeli leadership. Zionism strove for the creation of a Jewish National Home in a land in which another people was living. Since Zionism was an idealistic movement imbued with profound moral values, it could not bear the thought that it was committing a historical injustice to another people. It was necessary to suppress and deny the feeling of guilt engendered by this fact.
guilt feelings were deepened by the 1948 war, in which more than half the
Palestinian people were separated from their lands. The idea of turning the
The Jordanian Option is a euphemism. Its real name is "Anti-Palestinian Option". That's what it's all about. Everything else is unimportant.
THAT MAY explain the curious fact that since the 1967 war, no effort has been made to realize this "option". The High Priests of the Jordanian Option, who preached it from every hilltop, did not lift a finger to bring it about. On the contrary, they did everything possible to prevent its realization.
during Yitzhak Rabin's first term as prime minister, after the 1973 war, Henry
Kissinger had a brilliant idea: to return the town of Jericho to King Hussein.
Thus a fait accompli would have been established: the Hashemite flag
would wave over
Minister Yigal Allon
brought the proposal to Rabin, he was met with an adamant refusal. Golda Meir
had promised in her time that new elections would be held before any occupied
territory was returned to the Arabs. "I am not prepared to go to elections
The same happened when Shimon Peres reached a secret agreement with King Hussein and brought the finished product to the then prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Shamir threw the agreement into the waste bin.
("You face a
difficult choice," I once joked in a Knesset debate, "Whether not to
return the occupied territories to
ONE OF the interesting aspects of this long love story was that not one of the Israeli lovers ever took the trouble to look at the problem from the other side. In the depths of their heart, they despised the Jordanians as they despised all Arabs.
In the middle of
the 80s, I received an unofficial invitation to
government official invited me to dinner in a posh restaurant. On a paper
napkin he drew the map of
surrounded by countries which are very different from each other. Here is the
Zionist Israel, and here the nationalist
conclusion: the Jordanian Option was a folly right from the beginning. But nobody
in the Israeli leadership grasped that. As the wise Boutros
Boutros-Ghali once told me: "You have in
OLD LOVES do not
die. True, the first intifada pushed aside the
Jordanian Option and the leaders of
people are once more talking about
The King was appalled. That is just what he needs! To incorporate the turbulent and divided Palestinian population in his kingdom! To open the border to a new flood of refugees and immigrants! He hastened to deny any part in the scheme.
Federation? That is quite possible, he said - but only after a free Palestinian state has come into being, not before, and certainly not instead. Then the citizens may decide freely.
A famous book by the Israeli author Yehoshua Kenaz is called: "Returning Lost Loves". But it seems that this old love is gone forever.