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Israelis and Palestinians Fight: Don't Forget Jordan

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AIRSTRIKE GAZA IRAEL
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas don't trust each other and they don't like each other. That may be the case, but they both need to put aside those differences and act soon. Violence has erupted again between Palestinians and Israelis threatening to reach a new and dangerous crescendo, and there is a growing urgency next door to the Palestinian Authority and Israel, with forces threatening the Hashemite Kingdom north and east of Jordan. Over the past year cracks never before seen have appeared, challenging the integrity of King Abdullah's country. A year ago it was written in the Jerusalem Post:

It is only a matter of time before the bloody and messy civil war in Syria puts further pressure on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and then easily spills over into the Palestinian territories and Israel. An oasis of relative calm and stability remains in Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. We must assure those entities are not swallowed up by the tumult of their neighborhood. A key ingredient for that cohesion to hold is an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Despite the best efforts of Secretary of State Kerry and his team this past year the Israelis and the Palestinians did not reach an agreement. They no longer have the luxury of such time. Time will soon tell, if it has not already by the recent escalation of events between the Palestinians and the Israelis, that the "relative" calm oasis of the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and Jordan will be swallowed up by destructive elements on the move.The Middle East may be entering the beginning of Islam's own version of the Thirty Years War which devastated Europe 500 years ago.

If radical elements from Syria and Iraq are able to take over Jordan, or even parts of Jordan, Israel would be exposed all along her long and vulnerable eastern front. For Israel to have that peaceful border on her east remain intact she needs to strengthen Jordan and to strengthen Jordan a viable Palestinian State needs to be established. Such a change would take internal and external pressures off the Hashemite Government and increase her stability. The establishment of a viable Palestinian State would also transform a number of regional dynamics. Diplomatic relations would be established between Israel and many other countries creating a new cohesion in the area. Second, Palestinians would have a state they would not want to lose. That is to say, they would be highly motivated not to do anything that could invite Israel to reconquer their territory. The Palestinian government and people would have very strong incentives not to allow radical elements to take over a Palestinian State.

Mechanisms for economic, environmental, and security cooperation between the three states would need to be created, as well as opportunities for people to people engagements as already modeled by the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and other grassroots NGOs. Investment in tangible deliverables for the citizens of all three countries would also be essential to create further buy-in by the Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli populations.

Having laid out the scenario of what would happen following the establishment of a Palestinian State does not mean everything would so nicely fall into place. However, the status quo between the Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians is already being challenged by radical Islamic elements and something has to be done now to counter that force. While the majority of Palestinians are not so radical, the longer a viable Palestinian State is not created radical elements will find the right conditions to grow within a frustrated Palestinian populous, particularly as that power takes on a greater role in the region. The horrific murder of the Israelis teens did not happen in a vacuum.

Prime Minister Netahyahu and President Abbas may wish they had someone else to negotiate with across the table. That is a luxury neither can afford anymore, otherwise events outside of their control will dictate in very unpleasant ways their future. It is time for both of them to dig deep and make the hard and difficult decisions to create a viable Palestinian State along with a secure Israel with both fully engaged with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.