Untangling Mideastern Gridlocks

Iconoclast, Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers, Geneva (swissbit@solami.com) – 12 Jan 04
al-Jazeera's Palestine papers: US Secretary of State's refugee suggestion

In car traffic, overlapping claims to the right of way – for whatever cause - invariably produce either gridlock or an accident. Once the hardware is thus entangled, the traffic flow will not be reestablished by either rhetoric or gesticulations. Only someone’s enlightened engaging the reverse gear will do that. In politics here and there, overlapping land claims lead to similar deadlocks. It takes someone wiser and more courageous than others in order to effectively open the way out for everybody. In the case of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in particular, that someone need not be the originator of the gridlock. And in a longer-term perspective, the Palestinians may even benefit most from a properly designed and implemented initiative of their own. One which would deny their current adversaries the punching bag they apparently need for survival. To mutually beneficial ends, they might thus accept to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq by temporarily setting up there an internationally recognizable Palestinian state in exile, of course without prejudice for their return to Palestine. Inspired by the ping-pong meetings which facilitated the rapprochement between the United States and China, the untangling of key Mideastern gridlocks might get under way on the background of the Olympic Games in Greece, e.g. through qualified Palestinians to be included in the solidarity program which provides for Iraqi Olympia candidates to be trained in Switzerland. 1.   Reflecting the history of modern Iraq and its position in international law, including the still valid international guarantees for effective minority and private property protection there, revisiting a paper published in 1994 by the UN Commission on Human Rights (www.solami.com/a3b.htm#1994/NGO/48 | .../homeland.htm) may also be in order for those looking for a solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict.  Notably, the „Proposed Conflict Resolution Pathways for Iraq" called for an interim UN administration for the Northern part of Iraq (Mosul Vilayet) which, in 1926, was conditionally attached to Iraq.  It also offered the following perspectives: „11. The proposed measures could bring to the populations concerned the overdue relief, without prejudice to their ultimate political fate. In the case of the Mosul Vilayet's Yezidi and the Muslim, Christian and Jewish Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Turkomans and others, this would entail in time the eventual, freely-decided re-attachment of their ancestors' territory to either Iraq or Turkey, its attachment to Syria or Iran, or its eventual independence.
12.  Also, in the cases of the Christian, Shiite and Sunnite inhabitants of the Baghdad and the Basra vilayets, further developments are conceivable which seem worthy of these peoples' great cultural past. This might include interim solutions for Palestinians of all faiths who, in the event, may need complementary solutions and fallback positions. However, that road may be opened only by a deliberate - and sanctions-relevant - dissolution of existing structures into a federated state involving notably the Kingdom of Jordan."
2.   With the past Iraqi Government effectively pushed out of power, and the occupying Coalition Provisional Authority CPA anxious to hand back power to the Iraqi people by 30 June 2004 in an orderly fashion and with internally & externally stabilizing structures, a competently designed & implemented and adequately supported program to attract brotherly, well-trained and well-paid Palestinian professionals particularly into Iraq’s Northern districts might go a long way to achieve both the Iraqi people’s legitimate aspirations and the CPA’s security, political and other relevant longer-term objectives.

3.   With the current Israeli Government elected and apparently thriving on a security platform providing for the maintenance and continued ordinary development of most settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and with the Quartet’s official road map and the private Geneva initiative at least not yet, or in the foreseeable future meeting the reality test for a practical way out of the generations-old political gridlock of overlapping land claims, the Palestinian leadership might be offered to negotiate a mutually beneficial temporary exile in Iraq – with President Arafat perhaps more influential when acting from abroad, e.g. with a temporary sabbatical or medical leave in Geneva. The conceivable deal:

  1. the Iraqi Government extends an invitation to all Palestinians – including Hamas, etc. – to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq and to settle in Iraq, with the right to preferential acquisition of real estate in the Diyala District;
  2. the Palestinian Authority is granted a renewable 49-year Hong Kong-type lease for part of the Diyala District, with the right to establish there an internationally recognizable Palestinian Government-in-exile;
  3. the Palestinians have an internationally guaranteed right to their real estate in all of Palestine; they can either buy, sell, lease or belabor their own land holdings which, if situated in the occupied territories, shall remain under Israeli administration for the duration of the Diyala lease; landowners can visit their holdings anytime;
  4. the Israeli Government guarantees the protection and proper maintenance of Palestinian assets under its jurisdiction; both visiting and resident Palestinians are to receive national treatment, political and military rights reserved to Israeli citizens notwithstanding;
  5. the Palestinian Authority, at the invitation of the Israeli Government, appoints the mayors of those towns and villages in the occupied territories where Palestinians are in the majority; the Israeli Government consults and seeks the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority notably on infrastructure and all other matters of mutual concern; the parties agree to bi-annually renegotiated preferential conditions for bilateral trades.
4.   The proposed part of the Diyala District – some 10000 km2 Northeast of Baghdad, capital: Baquba – is oil-bearing, water-rich and suitable for agricultural development (www.solami.com/mvciht.htm | .../homeland.htm | .../babylon2.htm | .../palestineinexile.htm It is, of course, inhabited, but seen to be politically, economically and culturally suitable for accommodating the eventual influx of large numbers of Palestinians. Building new villages and towns on land either bought or leased from current landowners would be the general formula, with the key to it all being the private property guarantee contained in art.14 of the 1932 Declaration of Iraq which is not only still fully valid in international law but explicitly takes precedent over any contrary Iraqi constitutional provision, law or regulation (.../UNGA.htm). In the hands of imaginative arbiters this, of course, avails itself as a unique instrument for peacefully solving overlapping land claims in all parts of Iraq. At the same time, it is also a manifestly self-serving potential bonanza for every current, as well as for every illegally depossessed former landowner. Reanimation and enforcement of this eminently important international private property guarantee is thus likely to be supported by whoever will eventually be in power in Baghdad. And it has indeed already been subscribed to by all tribal, cultural and political leaders consulted so far.

5.   Swiss Parliamentarians, in the event, are prepared to facilitate the realization of the above efforts. With regard to the proposal to invite qualified Iraqi athletes for Olympic training in Switzerland, the Swiss Government has already agreed to support the Swiss Olympic Association’s related efforts (.../mvcolympia.html). A Palestinian athlete currently prepares himself under difficult circumstances for a spot in the swimming category. His integration in the Swiss solidarity Olympic program may be mutually acceptable and beneficial.