We ought to do some history first: origins of the name, the people, that kind of thing. It is absolutely fascinating, or deadly boring, so I am simply providing a link to my BibleNet blog (click here), where the ancient history and the Biblical connections are provided with readable brevity.
The concept of Falastina does not really become meaningful, however, until the Ottoman empire started in 1453, the Moslem Caliphate that ruled the entire Middle East, North Africa, the Levant, the southern portions of the Russias, and all the way across Europe to the gates of Vienna; within this vast empire Falastina was the name for one of its administrative regions, and it included what is now Jordan as well as what is now Israel.
Then, in 1919, their own silly fault for siding with the Germans in the First World War, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the French and British sat down to carve it up between themselves - the so-called Sykes-Picot Agreement, named for the bureaucrats who shared the knife and fork. Falastina was allowed to remain as Falastin, but under a British mandate, because of course those "Ayrabs" couldn't possibly be expected to run a country of their own. Falastina was divided by the river Jordan, with the land simply called Falastina to the west of the river, and Trans-Jordanian Falastina to the east.
Then, in 1923, the eastern portion was given as a gift by the British to an exiled prince of Saudi Arabia, in gratitude for his leading the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks, and it became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, formally recognised by the United Nations in 1946, and finally free of British troops in 1957... read more on the Jordan page of this blog, and particularly Black September, which brought to an end any hope the Palestinians might have had of ever getting back the eastern portion of their historic land. And in the meanwhile, the creation of a State of Israel left the Palestinians bereft of their western territory as well.
|Who were the idiots who thought that this was going to work as a two-state solution?|
So where is Falastina now; and where should it be?
The total geographical size of Palestine = 58,731 sq miles
Jordan 35,637 sq mi
Israel 20,770 sq mi within the Green Line (22,072 with the annexed Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but the Golan was always Syria, never Falastina, and let us leave East Jerusalem out of the discussion for the moment).
West Bank 2,183 sq mi
Gaza 141 sq mi
That makes a total without Jordan of 23,094 sq mi, which represents 39.2% of Falastin land; i.e Jordan represents/holds/occupies 60.8% of Falastin land. Israel holds just 35.6%, not including Gaza or the West Bank (with or without East Jerusalem); but including the territory that was given to it, legally and legitimately, in the 1947 United Nations resolution 181.
If the world is looking for a geo-political solution to the "Palestinian problem", does the answer not, self-evidently, lie in Trans-Jordanian Falastina?
The demographic size of Falastina is 20,399,407 at the time of typing this
West Bank 2,345,107
The number of Jews in all this is around 6 million, representing 75% of the total Israeli population, but expected to decline to 45% by 2035 (click here for more information on this point; and note that the numbers are crucial in any argument for a One-State solution)
In Jordan, there is no official census data for how many inhabitants are Palestinians and surmising the number rather depends on what definition one is using for "who is a Palestinian". Some estimates reckon the Palestinians to constitute more than half of the Jordanian population, which in 2008 amounted to about 3 million. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics put their number at 3.24 million in 2009, the last time it was able to conduct any kind of survey. The UN confirms that there were nearly 2.1 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan as of 2014. Around 370,000 of these are still living in the country's ten refugee camps, the biggest one being Baqa'a refugee camp with over a hundred thousand residents, followed by Amman New Camp (Wihdat) with over fifty-one thousand residents. Refugees do not comprise the entire Palestinian population of Jordan; to make that calculation you have to add the total number of refugees to the total number of those who were already there, or are descended from those who were already there, before 1923. Even using the lowest estimates, that makes a Palestinian population in Jordan of 5.3 million; 66.25% of the total.
Refugees in camps do not expect rights, privileges, jobs or votes, let alone citizenship, not even when the land in which they are refugees is actually their own land; those native-born, on the other hand, do. The Hashemite monarchy which rules Jordan does so with an iron fist, technically allowing a multi-party democracy but curbing its authority to a point close to zero; there are no Palestinian members of Parliament and, in the 2013 elections, 113 of the candidates elected in the 150-seated parliament were loyal to the government, with just 37 Islamist and other government critics on the opposition benches. The media is severely closeted, as evidenced by a Human Rights Watch report in July 2015. The mistreatment of Palestinians, inside and outside the refugee camps, has created what is tantamount to an Apartheid state in Jordan (click here).
What should the Palestinians do? They have raised a flag at the back of the United Nations in New York, but not at the front; and they have observer status, but no membership. I simply do not understand what they are waiting for. You want a state, declare one. Put up your flag in Ramallah, not New York, and stand on the balcony like David Ben Gurion to read your Declaration of Independence, and then call on the nations of the world to recognise you: today the West Bank, tomorrow - probably still just the West Bank, but it would nonetheless be progress. And what is going to happen of you do? Do you honestly think the Israelis will send in the troops to prevent it, and risk another all-out Middle Eastern war? Do you think your Arab and Moslem brothers will let you down by abstaining or supporting the Israeli attempt to muster enough votes to stop you.
Declare a Palestinian state. Now. Right now. I hereby declare it for you. And then, call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Jordan until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Jordanian Apartheid will, surely, rapidly emerge in response to this call...
You can find David Prashker at:
Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press