Representatives from over 50 nations and international groups convened last week for a US-Sponsored Middle East peace conference at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, America. In attendance were Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas along with representatives from most major countries of the world. The goal of the conference was to produce a substantive document on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along the lines of President George Bush's 2003 ‘Roadmap to Peace' with the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Annapolis conference concluded with an agreement for the parties to ‘commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003 - this is called the road map - and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism, led by the United States, to follow up on the implementation of the road map.'1
As is customary in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations Olmert and Abbas were both invited to the White House for a photo opportunity with the President. Standing in the White House Rose Garden with Olmert and Abbas at his side, Bush said, ‘We will use our power to help you as you come up with the necessary decisions to lay out a Palestinian state that will live side-by-side in peace with Israel.'2
A two-state solution, partitioning the land of Palestine and establishing a Palestinian State is the dream being sold to Palestinians and Israeli's as the only viable solution for lasting peace. But is this really the case? Is a Palestinian state established on the West Bank and Gaza Strip really a viable option and if not what is the way forward for the endless misery and suffering of those in the region?
The reality of a Palestinian State
The goal of the Annapolis conference was to try and revive the ‘Roadmap to peace' that was first presented to Palestinian and Israeli leaders back in April 2003 by a Quartet of mediators - the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia.
The Roadmap was entitled: ‘A Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.' Unlike previous agreements it documented a detailed plan for achieving this end goal.
The Roadmap stated:
A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israeli's readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below.3
Commenting on the Roadmap George Bush said:
'The roadmap represents a starting point toward achieving the vision of two states, a secure State of Israel and a viable, peaceful, democratic Palestine, that I set out on June 24, 2002. It is a framework for progress towards lasting peace and security in the Middle East.'4
Hence the Quartet led by America set strict parameters for the type of Palestinian state that will be established. It must be a democratic government based on western values.
For a picture of what such a ‘Democratic' government may look like one only has to look at the ‘democracies' in Iraq and Afghanistan that have brought nothing to the people except more bloodshed and further oppression. The governments installed in these countries are not subservient to the people but subservient to their western masters. Although ordinary people voted in the elections of both countries their choice was limited to candidates approved by the West. In other words, you can vote for anyone provided he serves western interests.
The starkest example of this was in January 2006 when Hamas won the Palestinian Parliamentary elections. There was immediate condemnation of the result by the western nations and much needed aid to the Palestinians was cut. America then worked through their agent Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who tried to force Hamas to accept the western inspired Roadmap. After 18 months of political deadlock and infighting between Hamas and Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas dissolved parliament in June 2007 and declared a state of emergency. Hamas then forcibly took control of Gaza expelling Fatah from the government and likewise Fatah took control of the West Bank expelling Hamas.
Abbas's rule echoes that of the worst tyrant Arab rulers in the region. In order to quell any opposition to the Annapolis conference Abbas outlawed all opposition demonstrations in the West Bank. Despite the ban, hundreds of brave Muslims from Hizb ut-Tahrir marched to show their opposition to the conference and the Roadmap. What happened next was seen around the world where Palestinian police pistol whipped, beat and shot at protestors. One protester was shot dead and hundreds more were seriously injured simply for voicing their political opinions.5
This current reality alone gives an insight into what a future Palestinian state may look like. Is this really a state Palestinians want to live under and a state that will lead to lasting peace in the region?
Israeli vision of a Palestinian State
The Israeli cabinet accepted the roadmap on 25 May 2003, by 12 votes to seven with four abstentions, after a six-hour debate that was described as stormy. However, in approving the plan, Israel attached a list of 14 reservations or pre-conditions to any future Palestinian state. The full list of conditions can be viewed here.
Two of these conditions are listed below to paint a picture of Israel's vision for a Palestinian state. Although these conditions are still to be negotiated, as history shows what Israel wants it gets regardless of international law or the wishes of the Palestinians.
1. Both at the commencement of, and during the process, and as a condition to its continuance, calm will be maintained. The Palestinians will dismantle the existing security organizations and implement security reforms during the course of which new organizations will be formed and act to combat terror, violence and incitement (incitement must cease immediately and the Palestinian Authority must educate for peace).
These organizations will engage in genuine prevention of terror and violence through arrests, interrogations, prevention and the enforcement of the legal groundwork for investigations, prosecution and punishment. In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aqsa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure; collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed; cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority; activation of the full prevention apparatus and cessation of incitement.
There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfilment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror.
The security plans to be implemented are the Tenet and Zinni plans. [As in the other mutual frameworks, the road map will not state that Israel must cease violence and incitement against the Palestinians].
2. The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized with no military forces, but only with police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.6
With these conditions the term ‘Palestinian State' is stretching the reality of the term state to its limits. This cannot be a basis for any state as it actually entrenches injustice and will lead to perpetual conflict.
Obstacles to peace
There are four main issues that are seen as the major obstacles to peace between Israeli's and Palestinians. These are:
A two-state solution is being proposed to resolve these issues, but in practice could the states of Israel or Palestinian actually resolve these problems?
The acceptance of a two-state solution is an acceptance that division of lands into separate states is a good and viable way forward for the interests of the people in those lands. However, the legacy of artificial borders created by foreign powers has resulted in perpetual disputes and conflicts. In 1915 two diplomats Mark Sykes of Britain and François Georges-Picot of France opened a map of the Middle East and with a ruler and pencil divided up the region between them. Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising Jordan, Iraq and a small area around Haifa, to allow access to a Mediterranean port. France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This became known as the Sykes-Picot agreement that laid the basis for the future creation of a multitude of artificial states in the Middle East that previously did not exist.
The motivation for this ‘divide and rule' policy was not the interests of the people in the region. Nor was regard given to whether such artificial states could in reality become functioning states. Rather the motivation was simply a division of the spoils of war after having occupied the lands of the Uthmaniyyah Khilafah and creating minor, powerless states that would be subjugated by colonial powers for generations to come.
Redefining of borders in the Muslim lands did not stop at Sykes-Picot and the creation of Israel in 1948. If it's in their interests the western nations support any call for self-determination in the Muslim world. There is currently support for splitting North and South Sudan, establishment of a Kurdish state and the splitting of Iraq into three. During the Cold War America supported a unified Indonesia as a bulwark to Communism and armed the Indonesian government in its brutal clampdown on calls for self-determination in East Timor. After the collapse of Communism, American policy changed and the splitting of Indonesia the most populated Muslim nation became their new policy. East Timor became officially independent in 2002 following an UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia, Portugal and the United States.
Ralph Peters, a retired US Army Colonel and author, in his article ‘Blood Borders' states:
'The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa's borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East - to borrow from Churchill - generate more trouble than can be consumed locally.'7
In his article Ralph Peters actually proposes the further division of the Muslim world by redrawing the borders once more. In his view further sub-division of the Muslim lands along ethnic lines is necessary for lasting peace in the region. His proposal includes splitting Mecca and Medina from Saudi Arabia and creating an ‘Islamic Sacred State' similar in nature to the symbolic Vatican mini-state in Rome. His redrawn map can be seen here. Ultimately his plan is no different to Sykes-Picot and is more about securing western colonial interests than any sincere desire for helping bring lasting peace to the region.
Further evidence of this is to look at the western nations and their attitude towards borders and division in their own lands. Whilst they pursue a policy of ‘divide and rule' in the Muslim world, at home they are moving towards greater unity and a ‘borderless' society. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the uniting of East and West Germany were seen as a momentous victory. Yet Israel's building of a similar wall through the West Bank is seen by George Bush as a security barrier that's ‘route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.'8
Despite centuries of bitterness and the fighting of two world wars European nations are uniting under the umbrella of the European Union. Most EU countries operate a single currency and are slowly moving towards more unified domestic and foreign policies. Clearly they see the power that unity through greater convergence brings.
The splitting of Palestine into two states: Israel and Palestine needs to be seen in this context - a way to keep the region divided and in a weakened condition for generations to come. Therefore a two-state solution cannot resolve the border disputes between Israel, West Bank, Lebanon and Syria since having any border there in the first place is the root cause of the problem.
In the course of Israel's creation in 1948 and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, more than half the Arabs of pre-1948 Palestine were expelled. Families who had inhabited Palestine for generations were ‘ethnic cleansed' by the Zionists and to this day live in squalid conditions in refugee camps across the Middle East.
According to the latest estimates the total number of Palestinian refugees is around six million.9 They want the ‘right of return' back to their homes where they have lived for generations. Israel however refuses to allow this since Israel is a Zionist state where citizenship is based primarily on being Jewish. Allowing six million Muslims back in to Israel would threaten the ‘Jewish' nature of the state. This is one major reason why Israel favours the establishment of a separate Palestinian state. Leaving the refugee's aside if Israel as one-state annexed the entire West Bank and Gaza giving the Palestinians full rights of citizenship then this again would threaten the ‘Jewish' nature of the state.
On his return from the Annapolis conference Ehud Olmert warned about this. He said:
'If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (with Palestinians) ... then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.'10
From this point alone its clear Israel cannot resolve the refugee crisis or even incorporate large numbers of non-Jews into its society.
A future Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza can in no way sustain an influx of millions of refugees since its already struggling to meet the basic needs of those Palestinians already living there. Gaza has one of the highest population densities in the world where around million and a half Palestinians are crammed into a small area of land.
One of the biggest problems caused by carving up the historical region of Al-Shaam (Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and part of Iraq) into separate, artificial states is access to water.
Water is such an important issue for Israel and the rest of Al-Shaam that former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said it was one of the causes of the 1967 war where Israel occupied the Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula and West Bank. Back in 1919, the Zionist delegation at the Paris Peace Conference said the Golan Heights, Jordan valley (what is now the West Bank), as well as Lebanon's river Litani were ‘essential for the necessary economic foundation of the country.'11
After 1967 Israel gained exclusive control of the waters of the West Bank and the Sea of Galilee, although not the river Litani. Israel's abuse of the regions water affects not just those living in the West Bank and Gaza but also Syria and Jordan.
Both Israel and Jordan rely on the Jordan River, but Israel controls it, as well as 90% of the water resources in the region. The 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace stated that Israel would give 50 million cubic meters of water per year to Jordan.12 In other words Jordan is at the complete mercy of Israel when it comes to its water supply. A stark example of this was in March 1999 when Israel cut water supplies to Jordan during a drought prioritising its own farmers and population.13
In the West Bank 90% of the West Bank's water is used by Israelis according to the World Bank. The Israeli army prohibits Palestinians from pumping water, and settlers use much more advanced pumping equipment. Israel and Israeli settlements, take about 80% of the West Bank's mountain aquifer flow, leaving the Palestinians with 20%.14 Israel allocates its citizens, including those living in settlements in the West Bank deemed illegal under international law, with between three and five times more water than the Palestinians.15
The Golan Heights provide 770 million cubic meters of water per year to Israel, which represents a third of its annual consumption. The Golan's water goes to the Sea of Galilee-Israel's largest reserve-which is then redistributed throughout the country by the National Water Carrier.16
The abuse of the region's water by Israel will continue to cause tensions in the region and despite the signing of water treaties with the Palestinians and neighbouring countries Israel can still use its control of the water to apply political pressure when needed.
A Palestinian state similar to Jordan will be completely at the mercy of Israel when it comes to water. The water problem cannot be resolved by either Israel or a Palestinian state.
Jerusalem (Al-Quds) is of religious importance to Muslims, Jews and Christians. For Muslims Jerusalem was the first Qibla (direction of prayer). It was where the Prophet Muhammad (saw) made the Isra (night journey) to heaven. It also contains Masjid al-Aqsa or Bait-ul-Maqdis the third holiest masjid (mosque) in Islam.
For Christians it contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christians believe Prophet Isa (Jesus) was crucified.
Jews claim Jerusalem has been their religious capital since the time of Prophet Dawud (David) 3000 years ago.
For most of the past 1400 years Jerusalem was under the authority of Khilafah with Jews, Christians and Muslims living in the area in relative peace. The keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to this day are held with the Nusseibeh Muslim family who lock and unlock the doors on a daily basis.
The periods of instability and bloodshed in Jerusalem have been during the times when the Khilafah was not in authority over the area.
Starting in the 11th century Jerusalem was occupied by the Christian Crusaders for around 200 years before once again coming under the authority of Islam. Then again from 1917 to 1948 Jerusalem was under control of the British. From 1948 west Jerusalem was under the authority of the Zionists and in 1967 East Jerusalem was occupied as well.
Under Israeli occupation East Jerusalem has witnessed bloodshed, oppression, violation of the holy sanctuaries, and demolition of Arab homes. The Arab residents of East Jerusalem (Muslim and Christian) have their rights continually violated. East Jerusalem's residents pay 30% of total municipal taxes, but they get back services worth only 5% of the city's budget. Israeli courts have said the municipality should add 1,400 new classrooms in the East, but so far city hall has built only five. The average yearly income on the Arab east side is $4,000. That is far lower than the $19,000 a year earned by a typical Israeli in the west of the city.17
Both Israel and a future Palestinian state claim Jerusalem as the capital. Israel has made it clear it will never give up East Jerusalem so a future Palestinian state cannot resolve the Jerusalem issue. Continued Israeli occupation of Jerusalem will continue to cause problems to its non-Jewish residents.
The Way Forward
From the discussion above neither Israel nor a future Palestinian state can resolve the major problems of borders, refugees, water and Jerusalem. Neither can they lead to lasting peace and stability in the region. The only way forward is for the establishment of the Khilafah that will unite the entire region of Al-Shaam - West Bank, Gaza, what is described as 'Israel' today, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq together with the entire Muslim World into one unified state with Jerusalem as its capital. This has been prophesised in the following hadith.
On the authority of Ibn Zughb Al-Ayadi, who said that Ali Abdullah b. Hawalah Al-Azdi came to him and said: "The Messenger of Allah (saw) sent us to seek booty on foot, so we returned and did not find anything, and he (saw) could see the exhaustion in our faces, so he stood up and said: ‘Oh Allah, do not leave them for me, where I would be too weak for them, and do not leave them to themselves, where they would be too weak for themselves, and do not leave them for the people, where they would keep (the good) from them, keeping it for themselves.' Then he (saw) placed his hand on my head..." (or he said: "...on my forehead): ‘Oh, Ibn Hawalah, if you see that the Khilafah has come to the sacred land (Al-Quds), then the earthquakes, the troubles, and the great happenings have come, and the hour on that day is nearer to the people than my hand here on your head.'"18
As regards the specific problems of borders, refugees, water and Jerusalem discussed earlier, removing the artificial borders and regimes in the region of Al-Shaam will create a strong state that can act in the interests of its people rather than the interests of the west.
Creating a regional water infrastructure of reservoirs and waterways for the entire region will resolve the water disputes. Nationalistic water interests will no longer apply as the Khilafah views all peoples of the region as one people.
Unlike the Israeli ‘Jewish' state the Khilafah is not a state just for Muslims. Citizenship in Islam is based on someone permanently living within the lands of the Khilafah regardless of their ethnicity or creed. It is not a requirement for someone to become Muslim and adopt the values of Islam in order to become a citizen of the state. Muslims living outside the Islamic State do not enjoy the rights of citizenship, whereas a non-Muslim living permanently within the Islamic State (dar ul-Islam) does.19
This is why the shari'ah definition of dar ul-Islam is:
According to the divine terminology, Dar ul-Islam is defined as the land which is governed by the laws of Islam and whose security (Aman) is maintained by the security of Islam, i.e. by the authority and protection of Muslims inside and outside the land, even if the majority of its inhabitants are non-Muslims.20
Therefore Jews, Christians and Muslims can live together under the Khilafah as they did for over 1000 years. There will no longer be a concept of refugees as all the Palestinians will become citizens of the Khilafah. As citizens they have full access to the state services of education, health and financial support if needed. With a strong economy the years of poverty, homeless and economic stagnation among Palestinians will gradually disappear. This also applies to Jerusalem, Islam has allowed religion's the right to worship but has forbade others occupying Muslim land.
Jerusalem will become the capital city of the Khilafah as prophesised in the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (saw).
The Prophet (saw) said: "This matter (Khilafah) will continue after me in Al-Madina, then (move to) Al-Shaam, then to the peninsula, then to Iraq, then to the city (Constantinople), then to Bait-ul-Maqdis. So if it reaches Bait-ul-Maqdis, then it would have reached its (natural resting place); and no people who remove it (i.e. the capital of the Khilafah) from their land will ever get it back again (for them to be the capital again)."21
Every city mentioned in the hadith has been the capital of the Khilafah at one time or other except Jerusalem. Constantinople (Istanbul) was the last capital of the Khilafah and the next capital for the future Khilafah when it reaches Al-Shaam will be Jerusalem inshAllah.
It is prophesised that the region of Al-Shaam will be the ‘Uqr (origin) of the land of the believers (Dar Al-Islam) towards the end of time.
The Prophet (saw) said: "The ‘Uqr of Dar Al-Islam is in Al-Shaam."22
The only viable state that can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Khilafah state. This is the only way forward for Al-Shaam that will bring lasting peace and prosperity to the entire region.
1 Guardian Newspaper, ‘Full text of Annapolis Agreement,' 27 November 2007, http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,2217946,00.html
2 BBC News, ‘Bush launches new Mid-East talks,' 28 November 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7117744.stm
3 US State Department, Press Statement, 30 April 2003, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/20062.htm
4 George W. Bush, ‘Statement on the Middle East.' 30 April 2003, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/04/20030430-4.html
5 International Herald Tribune, ‘Palestinian forces fire on pro-Islamic demonstrators in Hebron,' 28 November 2007, http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/28/africa/28pals.php
6 Haaretz.com, ‘Israel's road map reservations,' 27 May 2003, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=297230
7 Ralph Peters, ‘Blood borders,' Armed Forces Journal, June 2006, http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2006/06/1833899
8 George W. Bush, ‘Q&A: What is the West Bank barrier?' 15 September 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3111159.stm
9 BBC News, ‘Obstacles to peace: Refugees,' 30 May 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6659239.stm
10 Haaretz.com, ‘Olmert to Haaretz: Two-state solution, or Israel is done for,' 29 November 2007, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/929439.html
11 BBC News, ‘Obstacles to peace: Water,' 23 May 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6666495.stm
12 Wikipedia, ‘Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel-Jordan_Treaty_of_Peace
13 BBC News, ‘Drought forces Israel to break treaty,' 15 March 1999, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/296797.stm
14 Wikipedia, ‘Water politics,' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_politics#Middle_East
15 BBC News, ‘Obstacles to peace: Water,' 23 May 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6666495.stm
16 Wikipedia, ‘Water politics,' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_politics#Middle_East
17 TIME Magazine, ‘Jerusalem Divided,' 21 November 2007, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1686801,00.html
18 Sunan Abu Dawud, on the authority of Ibn Zughb Al-Ayadi
19 Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘The Methodology of Hizb ut-Tahrir for Change,' Al-Khilafah Publications, p. 6
21 Narrated by Ibn ‘Asaakir, from Maseerah b. Jaleese
22 Narrated by Al-Tabarani, in ‘Al-Kabeer,' on the authority of Salamah b. Nufayl