Jazz and Democracy

Jazz and Democracy

by

Howard Adelman

Yesterday evening on stage at that absolutely exceptional musical venue, Koerner Hall, Marcus Roberts, after he introduced the outstanding members of his band, The Modern Jazz Generation, and his planned program of the evening celebrating New Orleans and the jazz greats from that amazing city, turned toward his piano and seemed about to play. Then he turned back to the audience. He said that, although he had blabbered on long enough and should begin playing, he wanted to ask the audience a question. Perhaps they had heard there was an election going on south of them. He wondered whether there were any supporters of Donald Trump in the audience.

To my surprise, there were a considerable number as indicated by the applause and the favourable shouts. I thought Marcus Roberts would get up and walk out. Instead he asked, “And who supports Hillary Clinton?” The applause and cheers made the response for Trump seem miniscule in comparison. Then he asked, “Who supports Bernie Sanders?” It was hard to tell who received more applause, Hillary or Bernie. In the din and chatter that followed, before he turned back to play, I thought (or imagined) he mumbled, “Well I guess I can stay for the evening and play.

Though there were a scattered few young people in the audience, mostly musicians I guessed, the overwhelming majority were long in the tooth like myself. Our teenage years were spent in an age of crooners, in an Al Jolson revival, and with doo-wap and then folk music dominating the air waves before the early rockabilly of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis took over as rock-and-roll, Elvis Presley and the British Beatles invasion displaced jazz as the musical beat of the young. I still remember listening to Bo Didley at the Chicken Deli on the west side of Mount Pleasant below Eglinton, when rock made rhythm and blues a musical medium for fogies in their late twenties, thirties and forties.

After all, when I started university, Blackboard Jungle was playing in the movie theatres and the sound track featured Bill Haley and His Comets performing, “We’re Going to Rock Around the Clock.” I loved the movie but found it hard to listen to what I considered raucous noise. In my faulty and confused memory, I initially thought that Sidney Poitier starred as the WWII vet and frustrated and forbearing English teacher in a tough inner-city American school, but as I replayed parts of the movie in my mind, Sydney Poitier was the leader of the hard-nosed gang and Glenn Ford was the teacher. I had superimposed a movie forty years later, “To Sir, with Love” onto 1955.

Long in the tooth indeed! I decided my memory had been ruined by loud music. After all, everyone needs a scapegoat. By the time I completed graduate school and began my career teaching philosophy, I left a concert by Bob Dylan at Massey Hall at the beginning of the second half because Dylan had switched from acoustic to an electric guitar; the din gave me an instant headache. Indeed, The Times They Were a-Changing and I could not keep up to the speed.

So I attend the jazz series concerts at Koerner Hall that combine rhythm and melody. Yesterday evening, I listened to the virtuoso drumming of Jason Marsalis. He is truly a genius and makes playing percussion much more than keeping the beat. He not only has mastered all the skills, but has turned drumming into a versatile medium of self-expression as Marcus Roberts sometimes boogy-woogied and other times wildly improvised on the ivories along with all the other jazz greats, young as well as old, who join him and without exception are virtuoso performers. At times it appeared that Roberts used a device on his lap which I guessed must have been a Braille reader that perhaps reminded him of the itinerary for the evening. But that is just a guess and I could not figure out why there seemed to be a bit of confusion in transitioning from one number to another in the second half.

Rodney Jordan was brilliant as the bassist and never seemed to even glance at the music on his stand. He was both the least ostentatious and modest musician of the bunch while always seeming to respond, as if on cue, to whatever music he heard around him – until he played his own solo. Wow! In the back tier of the jazz ensemble sat the incomparable Randall Haywood playing trumpet along with Alphonso Horne. The two were absolutely brilliant. Horne plays with a lot of swagger while Haywood is both bold and retiring at one and the same time. Corey Wilcox dominated the middle tier, not simply because he is a very big man, but his tuba seems enormous and then he switches to trumpet and even the horn. What a versatile and virtuoso performer! Surprisingly, Caleb Mason on trombone almost kept up. Joe Goldberg on clarinet (and sometimes alto sax), whom Marcus Roberts introduced as a former physics major, centred the front tier. Tissa Khosla, who evidently cooks the band remarkable Indian food, played a baritone (and sometimes tenor) sax on his left (our right). Ricardo Pascal was on Goldberg’s right playing on the tenor and soprano sax.

We heard a lot of diamond-toothed Jelly Roll Morton who predated my maturing ear. (The band played “Doctor Jazz” and “The Pearls” – Roberts said that the latter had been written by Morton for a girl he fell for in Europe). Louis Armstrong also dominated in the repertoire.

I walk away from an evening of such brilliant jazz feeling inspired and blessing the luck of almost eight decades of life. How can you listen to Duke Ellington’s music without being buoyed up! Marcus Roberts said last night that jazz lies at the soul of America and is always new and renewable. I think it is the most democratic music for it allows each individual musician to play “his own horn” while working in an ensemble and playing off as well as with the others. Everyone is given a voice. That is why it is the music of equal opportunity and brashness in the face of adversity. It is also a music of stable rhythms and clarity in the sound. You can hear every note, especially from the sax players.

As yesterday proved, the old can be new again, for democracy has a built-in reverence for tradition and the rule of law, but not as a set of prison bars, but as standard setting and discipline, as a framework within which individuals can grow and thrive. Democracy is NOT populism. Democracy depends on a depth of knowledge of one’s tradition and one’s contemporary environment. If it is great jazz, it is never superficial where mouthing what first comes into your mind can be mistaken for “telling it as it is.” Jazz is not postmodernist where everything is said to be of equal value. Democracy is built on standards and a dedication to protecting and enhancing those standards and allowing each individual to realize his or her full potential.

When I return in subsequent blogs to dissecting the internal and external dynamics of so-called “democracy” in Iran, please keep this in mind. Does the democracy deliver tambour and constantly renew itself by providing a decorative interlacing dialectic between the society and the supporting columns and foundations that raise that society up as well as hold it together? Do the rhythms and counter-rhythms play off one another and with one another, or does one side of the tension turn into a disloyal opposition intent on serving as a spoiler rather than a creative counter? Is the repetition and dominant rhythm one of a military band that ensures that everyone marches to the same tune, or is the beat there to ensure a constitutional core that facilitates spontaneity and creativity? Is the conversation one of call and response or does it display deaf ears that turn away from the language of the other? Does the political system cultivate listening or deafen us to the voices of others? In other words, as the miasma bubbles up in a volcanic changing environment, do we experience flight in the face of real or imagined fears, away from freedom, or does the prospect of change and renewal inspire a move towards freedom?

I do not mean to put down the mambo and the samba, rhumba or calypso, but jazz is the soul of America, as Marcus Roberts declared, because it and it alone reveres riffing and improvisation. America par excellence is the country of discovery, of invention. Are we promoting multiplicity or insisting upon uniformity? Are we revering dynamism or stasis? Are we insisting upon strict and confining boundaries or a realm which challenges and alters those boundaries? Do we revere blackness, the revelations of the dark side, or does that just scare the bejeebies out of us? And then do we wear hoods over our heads and white robes in the elusive and eternally unsuccessful, indeed absolutely stupid pursuit of absolute purity, terrific and necessary for the lab but irrelevant to the brutal confusions and chaos of everyday life? Do we understand that democracy has far more to do with the experience of Black Americans, as much as we owe to the white founders, some of whom owned slaves, who read David Hume, John Locke and Adam Smith and were children of the Scottish enlightenment? For though jazz is about invention and improvisation, that creativity requires standards of excellence, mastery of foundations. That is why Marcus Roberts is so dedicated to the preservation and renewal of the greats who founded the jazz tradition. Are those who inspire us – Gershwin and Stravinsky, Matisse and Picasso – ones who loved jazz? Is the political music open-ended or does it lead us to a dead end? Do we build by mastering a legacy or turning that heritage into idolatry?

Is our language of discourse one about frontiers or about closed and walled-off spaces? Is it about cross-fertilization of differences or about the restrictive boundaries? I, of course, in writing about Iran, will also be writing about Canada and the U.S.

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The Parliamentary Debate over Fighting ISIS – The Liberal Policy

Corporealism XVI: Justin Trudeau Redux

B. The Parliamentary Debate over Fighting ISIS – The Liberal Policy

Justin Trudeau positioned the Liberal Party stance between the NDP, insisting on no combat role whatsoever, and the Conservatives, insisting on the retention of the air fighter jet contribution. The Canadian contribution by the Liberals was set within the context of a humanitarian operation and the larger goal of fighting ISIS in a battle for hearts and minds, of which the military role was an adjunct rather than front and centre. “When we talk about the fight today, it is not just a military fight; it is a fight for the hearts and minds of those who are under pressure to join the Islamic State.”

The issue was how best to leverage Canadian military assets. The policy was broad in its geographical application – Iraq and Syria, Lebanon and Jordan (border security, border monitoring, providing technical equipment and training facilities) – broad in the set of tools brought to the task – military and training, humanitarian programs ($870 million in aid over three years and resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees through government sponsorship alone by the end of 2016) and intelligence operations (re chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security), diplomatic coordination and development aid ($270 million over three years for promoting gender and sexual equality, protecting minority rights, mine and explosive clearance, etc.). The central message – a combat mission if necessary (versus the NDP), but not necessarily a combat mission for the fighter aircraft had been taken out of the equation (versus the Tories).

The Conservative response (to be explicated at greater length tomorrow) offered a great deal of humanitarian aid and helped refugees (???), but asked, why change the military mission in the sky? Air attacks have been successful, restricting ISIS to 25% of the territory it once held in Iraq. ISIS is weaker, more isolated. ISIS is also a threat to Canada. So the direct application of force is necessary, desirable and effective.

The Liberal response to the deployment of six CF-18s: perhaps before when ISIS was spread out; perhaps before, but not when Canada is only flying 2% of the missions; perhaps before, but not when the missions have been cut by a half or two-thirds; perhaps before, but not when the next major battle is for Mosul, a very large city totally infiltrated and controlled by ISIS in which aerial bombardment would be too costly in civilian lives. And perhaps never, for the major battle is not a military one, though a military one is necessary, but one best fought on the ground with well-trained and well-equipped local troops. The central battle is psychological, sociological and political. It is one for the minds and hearts of Iraqis, especially young ones, who are attracted to joining ISIL. As one Liberal member who has coached sports teams for a number of years, argued, you have to adapt the strategy to the current field conditions.

Trudeau also argued that Canada should concentrate on its expertise in advice and training developed from ten years in Afghanistan. Trudeau implied that, even though other countries desired primarily to play a training role, Canada was one of the best countries to fulfill it. To say, as Trudeau did, that Canada does not “have any troops on the ground in the front lines,” is very misleading, for in insurgency warfare, the enemy comes to you from the side, from the back, from underneath, from within. The battlefield does not have a front line by definition.

If the Liberals were engaged in a massive rebranding operation to portray Canadians as much more on the side of the angels involved in a hearts and minds fight rather than a direct combat role, why not go all the way? Why a hybrid mission with a scanty skirt of possible and risky combat training? If political stability is key, why get involved in the killing at all? The answer was there in the debate, but indirect and not really articulated very well by Justin Trudeau or other Liberals. It depended on how you characterized the enemy. It depended on how you characterized the means to combat the enemy.

On the question of the typology of the enemy, the Tories and Liberals were on the same ground, though the Tories used more fiery and unequivocal language. Daesh, ISIS, ISIL was evil incarnate, vicious. The militants in ISIS were “homicidal maniacs.” John McKay, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Defence Minister, called Daesh, “evil, brutal, and a completely ruthless collective of organizations that specializes in the use of terror to accomplish its aims. ISIL seeks to conquer and subjugate, with the interest and intent of establishing a quasi-nation state.” Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, not to be outdone by the Tories, said, This is certainly a horrible group, and no word, be it ‘genocide,’ ‘massacre,’ or ‘terror,’ is strong enough,” thereby contradicting Tony Clement’s claim that the Liberals were reluctant to characterize ISIL’s treatment of the Yazidis and the Christians as “genocide.” “This group is driven by a perverse and terrible ideology that makes young people think they will win salvation if they murder everyone who does not believe what they believe and if they kill men, women and children. We must do everything in our power to fight it.”

Dion added, “It is important that we do everything to eradicate this group.” Not defeat! Not vanquish! Eliminate. Exterminate. Eradicate. When is the last time you heard such language applied to an enemy? Daesh was characterized as perverse and diabolical by both the Liberals and the Tories.

On the question of the utility of the air strikes, they may have not only prevented Daesh from taking more territory but they helped push back the militants by providing air cover to the Peshmerga Kurdish forces. The Tories could have quoted Falah Mustafa Bakir, the top diplomat for the Iraq Kurds in the north, who said, when he toured Canada three months ago, that, “the Kurds would prefer Canada continue air strikes in Iraq and Syria.” Perhaps the Tories did not quote him because he put the position gently and added that, if Canada chooses to take another course, then the Kurds hoped that other forms of support (political presumably as well as economic and humanitarian) would be forthcoming. Fighter jets were helpful, but not absolutely necessary, was his message. The Tories tended only to generalize about the first half of Bakir’s remarks.

The smartest response to the Tory criticisms came from John McKay. “The Conservatives agree that we should triple our advise-and-assist mission. The Conservatives agree that we should double our intelligence mission. The Conservatives agree that a helicopter component is an important component to these two missions. The Conservatives agree that we should have a medical component to this mission. The Conservatives agree with the upping of the amount of money for humanitarian assistance. The Conservatives actually agree, reluctantly may I say, with the resettlement of refugees here in this country. The Conservatives kind of reluctantly agree, as well, that diplomatic re-engagement is a good thing. The only thing they disagree with is our opposition to the bombing mission continuing.” On that question, the core argument was not over past effectiveness but, given the changing circumstances, whether a re-evaluation should take place and, if so, whether the evaluation recommended ending the air mission.

That was the nub once it was agreed that a combat mission was not ruled out in accordance with NDP preferences. And the Liberals were vulnerable on this question. First, they had campaigned on withdrawing the six fighter jets, not on re-evaluating whether the continuing deployment of fighter jets should be part of the Canadian contribution. The books seemed to be cooked before the Liberals took office. They did undertake that re-evaluation when they had access to all the requisite evidence. Secondly, a number of reputable scholars on defence matters, while welcoming the overall package of changes, argued that the continuing deployment of the jets was important for the following reasons:

  • training Canadian pilots in actual combat situations
  • the need to continue the degrading of ISIL
  • the need to have air cover for troops on the ground when training missions took them into combat zones
  • the preference for Canadian jets supplying that ground cover because direct communication was better, compatible communication equipment was in play and, hence, a more rapid response could be expected, one which decreased the possibility of friendly fire on one’s own troops.

The options had to be weighed against alternative uses of resources, the significant decline in the sorties for those jets, questioning the results in the use of such expensive equipment relative to costs and whether other resources in the air from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Jordan, Netherlands, U.K., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and UAE could readily fill in the gap while Canadians contributed in other ways.

After reading the debates, I became convinced that the main reason for withdrawal of the six jets was not an exercise in cost effectiveness or effectiveness more generally, or whether the Canadian contribution was essential or could be made up by others given the diminution in the number of sorties. The main issue, I believe, was rebranding and the complementary strategic stress on giving priority to a hearts and minds campaign over the military one without compromising those military goals. Since neither the Conservatives (at least, on record) nor the NDP objected to either the rebranding and the new emphasis on the hearts and minds campaign, the only question, setting aside all the irrelevancies about past performance of the jets and the other errors and faults of Liberals over the past two decades, was the question of whether the withdrawal of the jets compromises a) either the overall military effort of the consortium of sixty-six countries or b) compromises Canada’s relationship with its allies or c) is the best approach given the nature of the enemy and the relevant strategies available.

Since the answer to the first two questions, as I piece it together from the replies and remarks elsewhere, seems to be “No,” no to compromising the overall military effort, and no to putting Canada offside with its allies, then the whole debate comes off as blather when it comes to Conservative-Liberal differences, all steam and smoke but a product of hot air rather than fire. The blessing was that it was conducted with great civility, a complement to the new mood of parliament, even when John McKay called Obhrai’s verbose speech “entertaining,” to which Obhrai took offence.

Obhrai, exasperated, just protested that the change was “at the expense of the most effective weapon we have in destroying ISIL.” So why did he not spend his time piling on one piece of evidence after another to try to prove that point instead of going off into a multitude of tangents? Why did he not quote from allies that “the coalition forces are a little disappointed in the Liberal government?” But more on this tomorrow. It may be true that, to the best of one’s knowledge, the CF-18s have never attacked civilian targets and have destroyed infrastructure, fighting positions, training grounds and weapon caches. The actual record after their final mission has been:

  • 251 airstrikes, only 5 in Syria
  • dropping 606 bombs
  • destroyed 267 ISIL fighting positions
  • destroyed 102 vehicles or other pieces of equipment
  • destroyed 30 improvised explosive device factories or storage facilities

I do not know, and I could not find anything to tell me, whether this was an efficient or inefficient use of resources, assuming all claimed successes are correct. I could not find any strong arguments, pro or con, to help conclude whether, going forward, the deployment of jets would be the most efficient or effective use of resources.

On the matter of allied criticism of the change in policy, on  8 February Justin Trudeau claimed that he had spoken both to President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel and both expressed understanding of Canada’s change in policy and did not condemn it. Canada was asked to continue its refueling and reconnaissance roles and Canada complied. Bruce Heyman, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, in his statement not only called Canada’s contributions “significant,” not only noted that Canada was among the first to join in the fight against the Islamic State, but affirmed that the new Canadian policy was “in line with the Coalition’s current (my italics) needs.”

The NDP objected to any combat role or risk of a combat role for the Canadian military. Further, when it came to repeated questions about the Arms Trade Treaty, the Liberals either obfuscated or simply went on to answer an imaginary question on another matter. According to UNODA (United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs),

Under the landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) countries regulate the international trade in conventional weapons – from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships – and work to prevent the diversion of arms and ammunition.”

The treaty has 131 signatories, including Canada, but Canada is among the fifty countries that have yet to ratify the treaty. Yet no explanation was offered when the NDP used this debate to raise the issue. Of course, it fits in with the NDP’s major point that the prime thrust of policy in dealing with ISIS should be cutting off its access to recruits, arms and funds. But, again, more on this tomorrow.

Other than the withdrawal of the CF-18s from the air mission, what changes were being made on the ground? According to the Liberals, Canadians realized that our efforts to help the local government win could best be served by increasing the amount of resources and troops who contributed to the training mission and to intelligence, provincial reconstruction, and actual regional stabilization. From about 2005 to 2010, this transition was under way and applied with great determination and skill, by not only the Canadian Armed Forces personnel, but indeed by all those who contributed to a so-called “whole-of-government” approach.

Sven Spengemann (Mississauga—Lakeshore, Liberal), who once served as a UN official with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Baghdad, put it this way: boots on the ground were absolutely necessary. However, the great shortfall is in training indigenous forces. What was needed was boots on the ground who were:

  • the best trained
  • local
  • had the best intelligence.

The Liberals wanted local forces to fight ISIS. The ground seized by Daesh, displacing millions of refugees and throwing the region into turmoil, will, the Liberals argued, only be taken back by efforts on the ground. To retake that ground, local allies need better training and support to take the fight to Daesh directly and allow people to return to their homes. To that end, Canada needed to train, advise and mentor them. The Canadian complement of military personnel taking part in Operation Impact will increase from approximately 630 to 850 focused on operational planning, targeting, and intelligence. The size of Canada’s training, advice, and assist mission will also be tripled and will include equipment, such as small arms, ammunition, and optics to assist in the training of Iraqi security forces, to boost local security forces’ independence. Consistent with international law, Canada would provide training in the use of that military equipment supplied by the Government of Canada.

The Liberals promised to provide additional intelligence resources in northern Iraq and theatre-wide to better protect coalition forces and those of the host country and enable the coalition to develop a more detailed understanding of the threat and improve its ability to target, degrade, and defeat ISIS by choking off the flow of supplies, money and personnel in an “observe, detect, orient, and react cycle.” Canada’s air mission would not end entirely. The Liberal government continued to support coalition operations using the Canadian CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft.

However, the new emphasis was not on the military, but on humanitarian, development and diplomatic assistance. In recognition of the worsening humanitarian crisis, Canada will undertake an $870 million three year commitment, 30% more than the previous three years, for humanitarian aid to support the basic needs of conflict-affected areas. Assisting Syrian refugees to resettle in Canada is an integral part of that humanitarian program. Canada will welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February and 25,000 government-sponsored refugees by the end of this year.

In the area of development assistance, as stated above, Canada will spend $270 million for development and resilience aid over three years, double the amount of the previous three years, to improve the living conditions of conflicted populations, and help to build the foundations for long-term regional stability of host communities, including Lebanon and Jordan, and work with local partners to build the capacity to provide basic social services, and foster inclusive growth and employment:

  • help create jobs by, for example, supporting Jordan’s commitment to put in place conditions that will create jobs for Syrian refugees in exchange for greater targeted development aid and better access to foreign markets for Jordanian exports
  • ensure that people have access to essential services
  • teach local officials how to operate water supply, water treatment, and sanitary facilities to prevent water-borne diseases associated with unsanitary conditions.
  • increase children’s access to education
  • provide a safe and healthy learning environment for the children of the local populations and the refugees
  • renovate schools
  • advance inclusive and accountable governance.

The education component is crucial. In hundreds of schools in Jordan and Lebanon, school has been shortened to half a day to permit refugee children to attend in the afternoons. Two million children in Syria and 700,000 in the camps no longer attend school. An entire generation is missing an education, with enormous long-term human and economic consequences. After all, education is the cement in order to build a democracy and maintain peace as well as provide the foundation for economic growth.

Since the solution to the crises in the region is first and foremost political, the diplomatic component will also be bolstered by additional staff in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Diplomats will work for a political solution to the crisis in Syria by supporting the UN-sponsored peace process as well as the reconciliation efforts of the Iraqi government and other crises in the region.

 

Tomorrow: A detailed critique from the Opposition parties

 

With the help of Alex Zisman

V. Samantha Power, the UN Security Council and the Jordanian Resolution on Palestine

V. Samantha Power, the UN Security Council and the Jordanian Resolution on Palestine

by

Howard Adelman

This morning, I had planned to write a blog on Samantha Power’s relationship to the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect and reserve my discussion of her role on the Security Council for my series of case studies. It would allow me to follow up on the question of the extent to which Samantha Power has become a supporter of Israel, an issue that I raised in yesterday’s blog. But I have also been itching to write about the recent UN Security Council vote on the Jordanian-sponsored Palestinian resolution that failed to pass. In particular, I wanted to write about my puzzlement over the Palestinian decision to push the vote for the end of last year, which I had not expected, instead of early this year when Venezuela and Malaysia, both strong supporters of Palestine, replaced two friends of Israel, Australia, which voted against the resolution, and Rwanda which abstained. If they waited, the Palestinians would have been assured of the nine votes needed, and, in any case, may still bring up the resolution again. As it is, most of us counting the numbers thought the Palestinians had enough support for the resolution tabled at the Security Council on the 30th of December and brought up for a vote on the 31st.. As it turned out, the key to the failure to pass turned out to be Nigeria.

I will deal with the voting itself tomorrow. In this blog I will present and analyze the resolution. On 31 December 2014, the UN Security Council convened to vote on a so-called compromise motion of the original draft circulated by Jordan just before Christmas. I have appended the resolution tabled on the 30th at the end of this blog. The additions to the 17 December resolution are in bold. Where there were changes in wording, the new wording is in bold and the older version is in italics.

There are a few significant but relatively minor differences between the two drafts, but both called for peace between Israel and the Palestinians to be negotiated within a limited time frame of one year. A preamble clause was added citing relevant previous UN resolutions on Jerusalem declaring that the annexation of East Jerusalem was illegal. Another preamble clause cited the advisory ruling of 9 July 2004 of the International Court of Justice that the wall constructed in the Occupied Territories had legal consequences. Instead of one of the parameters of a peace agreement referring to an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, the word just was substituted. The biggest change, in line with the change in the preamble on Jerusalem, was to alter the paragraph calling for Jerusalem to be the shared capital of the two states. A more general wording called Jerusalem the capital, not a shared capital, of the two States. In other words, each state could have its capital in a part of Jerusalem.

Instead of weakening the original document through a compromise with the French version, the new version was even stronger, except for the clause on Jerusalem. The French were supposedly pushing for a resolution that might win American support. There was no chance of that. Further, the French voted in support of the resolution even though it still included the idea of finalizing a peace agreement within one year and did not seem to include any of their suggestions. The Palestinians misleadingly had insisted that their draft was a compromise with the French version. When the French were asked about this, they were non-committal and very diplomatic. The French Foreign Ministry said, “Our aim is to bring the international community together in support of the peace process. We therefore wish to see presented to the UN Security Council a text likely to get unanimity…The Palestinians have announced the submission of a text in New York. We will examine it in light of this objective.” There was no chance of the wording of the text achieving unanimity. Instead of it being a compromise with a phantom French text, the final text was stronger. The French supported it anyway.
Why? In putting the resolution to a vote in the Security Council, the French supported the Palestinian drive to avoid the American-Israeli diplomatic dead end by setting a short timetable for negotiations and an end to the occupation, The peace process had to move on and evolve. That meant taking Barack Obama at his word and adopting a multilateral approach, or, as the French envoy to the United Nations put it, with the vision of a two-state solution receding, “the peace process must evolve. If parties can’t take decisions alone, the international community has to share the burden.”

The key terms of the resolution were:
• endorsement of the two-state solution with each state having secure and recognized borders
• the borders were to be based on the 1967 borders with agreed, limited and equivalent land swaps
• the right of the Palestinian state to have East Jerusalem as its capital
• rejecting settlements, including in East Jerusalem, as illegal
• defining the annexation of East Jerusalem as illegal
• calling for a just and agreed resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem on the basis of international law [not international practices] citing resolution 194 (III) which does not, contrary to what many have been led to believe, specify a “right to return”
• clauses denouncing the illegality of the wall in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza
• reiterating peaceful means as the exclusive method of conflict resolution
• denouncing both terrorism and the failure to protect civilians in time of war
• acknowledging American peace efforts but effectively sidelining the USA and shifting the peace negotiations to the auspices of an international conference
• affirms the urgent need (not the requirement or the obligation) to get an agreement in 12 months
• security arrangements for both states to be secured by a third party presence
• a phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces to be completed by the end of 2017 at the latest

Even before the revised resolution was modified and submitted, there was strong opposition to the resolution circulated by Jordan on 17 December from within the Palestinian community, not including Hamas which opposed submitting a resolution altogether since Hamas adamantly opposes a two-state solution. The criticisms included:
• absence of an enforcement mechanism
• absence of penalties against Israel for its continued occupation, expansion of settlements, its imposition of “apartheid,” and its denial of Palestinian rights for 66 years
• failing to recognize the imbalance in power between the two sides and, instead, treating Israel and Palestine as equal partners
• the resolution did not mandate the creation of a Palestinian state within 12 months, but simply “affirmed the urgent need” for its creation
• the resolution introduced nothing new since there have been many UN resolutions already on record affirming “a just lasting comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders.”
• The strongest criticism was aimed at the acceptance of the principle of negotiated “mutually agreed, limited and equivalent land swaps” since, for the critics, land acquired in 1948 is occupied and is not to be bartered away while legitimizing the land acquisitions by Israel in the 1948 war. (For those critics who do not even recognize partition, Israel itself must be dismantled and all of its territory is occupied land.)
• Resolution 194 (III) is interpreted as endorsing the right of refugee return, a right that cannot be negotiated or bargained away; the resolution, in effect, retreated in favour of a “negotiated solution” as supported by the Arab League Peace Initiative rather than a mandated requirement
• The major stress on Israeli security merely legitimizes the Israeli military occupation as a “security” arrangement and the IDF as a “security force” rather than an imperialist colonial occupying army
• Existing settlements are not labeled illegal, as UN resolutions usually do, but the resolution merely calls upon the parties to abstain from settlement activities.”

Even Marwan Barghouti, sitting in solitary confinement in an Israeli jail for calling for a new uprising, criticized the Jordanian resolution, although he does support both a two-state solution and putting a resolution before the Security Council. The revised document incorporated his criticisms of Jerusalem as a “shared capital” and his demand to include a reference to prisoners. He was also critical of the mild wording of the reference to the settlements and disliked the endorsement of land swaps, thereby, in his interpretation, legalizing the Israeli settlements. As far as he was concerned, any resolution had to label all Israeli settlements as illegal and, hence, that they be removed. Finally, the refugee right of return had to be endorsed.
There was a great deal of politics in the week leading up to the vote, some necessary, such as submitting the compromise back to the Arab League for ratification. But it became very clear, and Saeb Erekat, spokesperson for the Palestinians, repeatedly reinforced that interpretation, that the Palestinian delegation seemed very eager to bring the resolution to a vote before the New Year, that is, before they would have a guaranteed number of votes necessary to pass the resolution. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to tell him that he intended to press ahead in spite of U.S., and, of course, Israeli opposition. Israel threatened retaliation because the Palestinians were engaging in an end run instead of negotiating directly with Israel. Israel did not want to be bound by third party imposed deadlines, even though the deadline was aspirational rather than mandatory. Israel had too much experience with so-called goodwill resolutions that were soon interpreted to be embedded with poison. Israel quickly acted upon its threat by withholding tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority due in the New Year just because of the initiative, even though it failed to pass.

What were American objections? Since the resolution simply affirmed the need to end the occupation and arrive at an agreement in twelve months, it did not seem to cross Washington’s red line which adamantly opposed any unilateral action. But it did cross a line. For the results were a product produced by one side instead of a negotiated one. There was also an unstated process objection. The Americans were being sidelined. The Palestinians had become convinced that the Americans were too biased towards Israel and they could not get a fair deal as long as America was the key mediator. Quite aside from the insult to America’s status, the U.S. was convinced that there could be no deal without American help given the position and security concerns of the Israelis.

The United States also differed with the resolution on several substantive issues. Some issues, as the British Ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant stated, were largely linguistic, though nevertheless very significant, such as the language dealing with refugees. Others were problems with timelines even if only moral and not imposed. On Jerusalem, Israeli support for a divided Jerusalem was required. But Israel would never support any deal unless there were strong provisions to protect Israel’s security. The resolution was totally flimsy on that issue. When Americans said the resolution was not constructive, they usually added the clause that it failed “to address Israel’s security needs.” But the most important issue for the Americans, which could not be discussed, was the Israeli elections in March. The Americans were determined not to give Netanyahu a platform on which to beat a battle drum and increase his chances of forming the next government. Given their experience with Bibi, they had become convinced that, as long as he was at the helm, no agreement with the Palestinians was possible.

What was Samantha Power’s position? She insisted the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and only addressed the issue of one side. In comments after the vote, she said that: “the effort of pushing the resolution to a vote, instead of giving voice to the aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis, addressed only one side.” She insisted that the Palestinians, in pushing for the Security Council vote, had staged a “confrontation” that would push the parties farther apart. But she gave no evidence that she had any idea of how to get them together.

Did Samantha Power play any significant role in ensuring the failure of the resolution?

Tomorrow: The Machinations Behind the Vote on the Palestinian Resolution

Jordan: draft resolution tabled at the UN Security Council on 30/12/2014

Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,
Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,
Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,
Recalling also its relevant resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, including resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, and bearing in mind that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community,
Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,
Recalling the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,
Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012, and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,
Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties,
Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),
Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,
Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,
Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,
Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,
1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfils the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;
2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:
– borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps;
– security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces, which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region;
– a just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);
– a just resolution of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship; [v.s Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;)
– the just (vs, an agreed) settlement of all other outstanding issues, including water and prisoners;
3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;
4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the centre of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;
5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;
6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;
7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;
8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighbourly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;
9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;
10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, as well as all provocations and incitement, that could escalate tensions and undermine the viability and attainability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;
11. Reiterates its demand in this regard for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem;
12. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;
13. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;
14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Jordan

Jordan

by

Howard Adelman

I do not normally dedicate blogs. After yesterday, it may become a habit. This one, however, is doubly dedicated, and to two people who are still alive. First, I dedicate this blog to my son, Daniel, who, as a very committed environmentalist, has taught me a great deal about the dangers of oil spills in particular, particularly with respect to the Canadian Gateway and Keystone pipeline proposals, and climate change in general. Secondly, I dedicate this blog to my colleague at York University, Professor Stuart Schoenfeld (schoenfe@yorku.ca if you want the same information), whom I last saw with his wife, Joan, when we were visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House in Buffalo a few years back. Stuart is a member of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Centre for Research and Information, and regularly shares with me (electronically) stories of environmental threats as well as areas of cooperation in the Middle East, but particularly between Israel and Jordan and between Israel and the Palestinians. (Website “Environment and Climate in the Middle East” – http://mideastenvironment.apps01.yorku.ca/ I just want to reassure him that I am grateful and still read his missives. This blog, and the one tomorrow on the UN General Assembly decision on Friday to hold Israel responsible for the oil spill on the Lebanon Coast in 2006, are intended to serve as proof.

In a recent blog, I reported that Jordan will be joining the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the first of January. In that role, Jordan has circulated a resolution to be passed by the UNSC sidelining the USA in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and calling for an end to Israeli occupation, withdrawal of military troops from the West Bank by 2017, and the conclusion of a peace treaty within a year based on the 4 June 1967 borders, with equitable, limited and agreed land swaps, a just outcome for the Palestinian refugees, and Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and Palestine. Israel, including key leaders in the opposition, have rejected the proposal outright. Israel has promised to work for its defeat, though, at this time, it looks like the resolution may win the 9 votes needed to pass. The U.S. has promised to veto the resolution. Yet Jordan boasts that it is closer to the Obama administration, the government and even the Republican dominated Congress than Israel.

I promised to answer the question of why Jordan would make such a boast. Even though Jordan’s initiative strengthens the rightwing in Israel by confirming that Israel lacks a serious partner with which to negotiate a peace agreement, Dow Marmur in his blog speculated that the reason Jordan sponsored the resolution in the UNSC is because Jordan, as well as the PLO and Egypt, prefer the status quo to an independent Palestine in which there is a good possibility that Hamas could come to power. I will be offering my own answer to my question and Dow’s speculation, though in a roundabout way.

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is gorgeous, with buildings constructed out of the same Jerusalem stone as those in the city from which that stone gets its name. The people are exceptionally hospitable. Even in a very poor house in a Palestinian refugee camp, a mother with her children swarming around her will offer me tea and even a sweet if she has any. Yet with all that hospitality and generosity, Jordan is the archetype of a state and an administration walking a tightrope. I do not mean this merely as a metaphor. Jordan is a tightrope. Jordan is a string of urban areas running north to south along the eastern border of the West Bank and Israel – Irbun, Ajloun, Jerash, Zarqua, Salt, Amman, Madaba along the top half bordering the West Bank that I referred to in my blog yesterday, and Karak, Petra and Aqaba parallel to the border with Israel on the southern portion of that string of cities. Jordan is more akin to Canada in that sense, but on a north-south rather than an east-west urban axis.

Except, while Canada stretches enormously from sea to sea to sea – from the Atlantic Ocean in the east, the Arctic Ocean on the north and the Pacific Ocean in the west – Jordan is virtually landlocked. Further, Jordan has a scarcity of water. There is more fresh water that I can see from my cottage in Georgian Bay, Ontario, than Jordan, Palestine and Israel possess all together. However, Jordan, unfortunately, does not have the responsibility of Canada, or even its not so-secret “partner”, Israel, in preserving coastline, and managing the competition between the tourist/development industry and the environmental ministry as the latter resists the efforts of the former in its efforts to convert pristine coastline at the northern end of Palmahim beach into a large resort on the Mediterranean rather than a nature reserve. Jordan can only wish that it had such problems.

Nevertheless, Jordan has led the world in a number of areas, especially in developing norms to deal with migrating human populations. Further, in the specific problem of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it did set two precedents in the building blocks towards a two-state solution. First, in the face of rising Palestinian nationalism, in 1988, the King of Jordan, a country of a core 35,480 square kilometres, gave up any claims to the West Bank, the almost 6,000 square kilometres of territory that Jordan had conquered and then annexed following the 1948 war, an annexation that few other countries recognized, but which hardly any countries protested – in stark contrast to Israel’s “occupation”. Secondly, in 1966, Jordan engaged in a trade of territory with another country. In 1966, it alleviated its almost total landlocked character slightly by trading territory with Saudi Arabia on its east and extending its shoreline along the Gulf of Aqaba to 16 miles so that Aqaba could extend its port and recreational facilities.

If Canada is currently a relatively politically inconsequential actor on the world stage, Jordan is a very understated and under-rated one. Jordan’s achievements in receiving and integrating refugees is unparalleled. In the last three months, Jordan has received over 10,000 refugees from Iraq fleeing the advance of the Islamic State (IS) as well as sectarian violence in Baghdad and Basra. Recall that many of the half million Iraqi refugees that fled in 2003 remained in Jordan. Of the 3.2 million Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR, over 620,000 registered refugees have found a safe haven in Jordan, though just last week Jordan had to suspend the free health care services offered to those refugees in state-run hospitals because of a financial crisis. In fact, taking into consideration the estimated almost 800,000 unregistered Syrian refugees in Jordan as well as the registered refugees, the total of Syrian refugees alone in Jordan is probably over 1.4 million. And that is in a country with a citizen population of only six million! Compare that with the Canadian government’s cut off of health services for refugees who did not number 2% of that total and posed very little pressure on the economics of health in Canada. And my country cannot even manage to take in the 1,300 Syrian refugees it promised, 0.1% of Jordan’s intake, in a country with a population of 35 million rather than just over six million.

Even before the arrival of the 1.4 million Syrian refugees from the current civil war in Syria and the influx of refugees from Iraq, over 50% of its population consists of Palestinians who fled what became Israel in its war with the Arab states in 1948, as well as those who fled when Israel captured the West Bank in 1967. It is estimated that, of Jordan’s over six million naturalized population, 3.25 million are Palestinians. Unlike any other Arab country, the Palestinian refugees have almost all been given citizenship. And this in a country with few natural resources. Even Israel’s natural water shortage seems minor compared to that of Jordan.
But water is a basis for a relatively unknown area of extensive cooperation between Israel and Jordan. I first learned of this partnership when, as a producer and host of the TV program Israel Today, we did a full hour show out of Eilat on the coordination between Israel and Jordan on the preservation of turtles in the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat. The cooperation on water and the environment is far more extensive and deeper (no pun intended) than the relatively minor issue of turtles.

In Sunday’s edition of Haaretz, in an article on water shortage in the Middle East that, through yet another lens in its repeated theme of fostering Israel as the economic and technological saviour of the region and, therefore, the key agent for ensuring security, prosperity and peace, the newspaper reported both that the journal Climatic Change, published a study claiming that a drought was responsible for the collapse of the Assyrian Empire 2,700 years ago, and that current estimates that 634 million people living in the Middle East by 2050 (double the current population) will be faced with even greater water shortages and a decline in precipitation. Israel’s advanced technology, desalination and water recycling, that have helped Israel to become a kind of regional water superpower, could play a role in the salvation of the Middle East from the current and worsening water crisis. After all, although the average amount of precipitation in Israel is 1.2 billion cubic meters, Israelis consume 2.2 billion cubic meters of fresh water, a shortage made up by technology, water conservation, desalination and recycling. Israel recycles an amazing 87% of its water, whereas the second most successful political jurisdiction recycles only 25% and the third most successful only 10%.

Since 1994, Jordan has stored water from winter rains and the rise in levels of the Yarmouk River in Israel’s Sea of Galilee. Israel then pumps the water back to Jordan in the summer. Water preservation is crucial to Jordan’s survival. Water agreements, that were part of that 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, provided that Israel would provide Jordan with an additional 55 million cubic meters of water per year. For food security, Jordan needs to practice the highest degree of water preservation and re-cycling. In the Arab countries in the region, annual renewable water resources per capita are less than 850 cubic metres (the world average is approximately 6,000 cubic metres), with Jordan ranking as the world’s second water-poorest country with water per capita 88% below the international poverty line of 1,000 cubic metres per capita, a need aggravated enormously by the huge influx of refugees and the fact that, at present, the agricultural sector utilizes 85% of total water withdrawals in contrast to the maximum 40% recommended by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Israel and Jordan cooperate, not only on water conservation, but on water waste and theft. With some remote imagery by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) incorporating some Israeli technology, the Jordanian water authority discovered “stolen” water. An illegal 1.5 km pipe in Amman was siphoning off water into a storage pool on a farm guarded by fierce dogs behind Middle East University. The water was being re-sold to other farmers. In Amman, where inhabitants receive water twice every two weeks, that situation could be alleviated if 50% of the water that leaks or is stolen from the water distribution system could be halted.

Israel and Jordan not only share a vital resource, water, and a common interest is wise management of that resource, but they effectively share the same air and, in some sense, land. When five million litres of oil from the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline leaked in southern Israel near the Jordanian border into the Arava nature reserve after a vehicle, being used in the construction of the new international airport to be shared between Israel and Jordan, crashed into and broke a section of the 245 kilometre Ashkelon Eilat crude oil pipeline on Wednesday evening on the 4th of December, Highway 90 was closed as was the town of Be’er Ora, 20 km. north of Eilat. Ironically, on the same day, a convention opened in Tel Aviv to implement Israel’s national plan for developing oil alternatives for transportation, the Eilat-Eilot Green Energy Conference. That meeting was intended also to celebrate the implementation of a plan to have the whole southern area up to the Dead Sea fully solar-powered by 2016, a plan somewhat at odds with the licensing of a Canadian company, Transeuro Energy Corporation, to develop the Hamzah Oil Field in Al Azraq.

In response to the smell from the Israeli oil pipeline leak, and the memory of the explosion of a gas well in Eilat two weeks earlier, panicked residents of Aqaba swamped the emergency rooms of Prince Hashem Bin Abdullah Military Hospital and the Islamic Hospital by citizens suffering from shortness of breath and an increased heartbeat. The panic was not medically justified, but it was understandable given the noxious smell of rotten eggs given off as a result of the oil spill that increased the hydrogen sulfide in the air above the acceptable level of 30 parts per billion (ppb) to 80 ppb and instead of the normal 1-2 ppb in Aqaba. Jordanians also feared that the gas would explode and, initially, that the oil would contaminate the Wadi Rum nature reserve north of Aqaba where a reintroduction and release program by the Jordanian EAD environmental agency of the endangered Nubian Ibex – 30 males and 70 females – had just begun.

I have not heard whether the heavy rainfall that took place a few days later allowed oil to seep deep into the aquifers and into the Gulf of Eilat and the Red Sea endangering the coasts and the coral reefs. I suspect not since the truism, “No news is good news,” applies, especially to the environment. The rapid response of the Israeli Environmental agency, and the proximity of Neot Hovav, formerly Ramat Hovav, 12 km south of Beersheba as Israel’s main hazardous waste disposal facility, probably enabled the spill to be controlled quickly.

In Jordan, fear of another kind sits immediately under the skin. Syria occupies its northern border. There is the constant dread that the Syrian War will spill over into Jordan, especially since a shortage of water in Syria from the 2006-2009 drought is viewed as a precipitating cause of that civil war. There is fear that Jordan will follow the path of its neighbours in the Arab Spring and, in the quest for greater democracy and more liberties, Jordanians might seek to overthrow King Abdullah II and turn Jordan into a failed state. There is the fear that now permeates the whole Middle East that radical Islamicists and jihadists, like Islamic State (IS), will cross the border from Iraq and Syria, infiltrate and create havoc in Jordan or, as in Syria, gain control of a crucial water source just as IS took control of the Tabqa Dam there in February 2013. There is the fear that radical Palestinians will seek to turn Jordan into part of the state of Palestine and a base from which to conquer the West Bank and even hope to defeat Israel, as the PLO once tried to do before Black September in 1970. There is even the fear that the strict form of Islam, Wahhabism, practiced in Saudi Arabia, will cross over its eastern border, particularly given past historical tensions between Jordan and Saudi Arabia. After all, the Saudis displaced the Hashemites from Hejaz after WWI and the Hashemites received Jordan as a consolation prize from the British Empire. Saudi Arabia has always been, to a small degree, wary of Jordan.

During the Persian Gulf War, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were at loggerheads. After all, Jordan, given its great financial dependency on trade with Iraq and, along with the PLO, obtaining oil from Iraq at a discount, was one of the very few polities to back Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. After Iraq’s defeat by George H. W. Bush, Jordan was in dismal straits as both Jordanians and other Palestinians fled back to Jordan when they were evicted by Kuwait following Iraq’s defeat. Trade with Iraq had fallen to zero. This turned into a double whammy, since the previously large flow of remittances also dried up. By 1996, Abdullah, when he was still a prince, made the required trip to Saudi Arabia in contrition. In 2014, Jordan is now fronting the Arab League, dominated by Saudi Arabia, in sponsoring its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal.

Given its borders, one has to understand the insecurities of the Jordanians. The only border which feels relatively secure is its border with Israel. Since all of Jordan’s major rivers are in the west running into the Rift Valley of the Middle East, environmental cooperation with Israel is not only a good idea, it is imperative. Further, Israel has the same border insecurities as Jordan, but in spades – from the Hezbollah-Lebanon border on the north, an increasingly radicalized Islamic State deployed along the border with Syria on the north-east where there is a rising possibility of Israel intervening in the Syrian conflict following an alliance between the rebel Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades and IS, and the Hamas self-destructive madness in Gaza to the south; once again Hamas is trying to rearm and improve its missile capabilities while regaining its support from Iran only to have Israel respond to a one-off rocket attack from Gaza by bombing Gaza’s cement factory. Thus, cooperation between Israel and Jordan is not only imperative on the environment, so too is it on the political front.

Tom Friedman had described John Kerry’s peace initiative, while it was underway, as the last train to catch if peace was to be achieved, otherwise the train would run over both parties and turn into a wreck leaving the two-state solution dead on the tracks. In this past Friday’s NYT, Friedman saw one last hope – in the cooperation between Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists as a model for preventing the political atmosphere as well as the environmental one becoming more toxic. Friedman wrote about the water crisis in Gaza; Gaza’s one hydro generating plant was severely damaged in the recent Fifty Day Gaza War so desalination has been greatly reduced. Israel seems the only source to provide the electric power needed to run the desalinization plant if it is repaired. The Gaza aquifers are becoming so brackish that the water is becoming undrinkable, a situation not helped by the propensities of Gazans to dig their own private wells. Untreated waste travels up the coast to Ashkelon so that Israelis get a slight taste of living in a waste management dump. In providing answers to those shared problems, interdependence and trust, Friedman argued, are fostered.

I agree with Friedman’s argument. The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) meeting in Amman in November highlighted the issue of food insecurity faced by Arab states (they import over 50% of their food needs). With increased aridity, limited cultivable land, scarce water resources and population growth, as well as the compounding effects of climate change, the situation can only get worse.
Jordan is no slouch when it comes to the environment. Amman has been named by the Rockefeller Foundation as one of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) declared ready to respond to the social, economic and physical shocks and stresses anticipated in this century. As both urbanization and globalization both grow apace, as anyone visiting Mexico City would have to notice, we are confronted by climate change, natural and man-made disasters, super-typhoons and category 5 hurricanes, booming populations and waning potable water, droughts and floods. Gaza last month suffered record-breaking floods, especially around Sheikh Radwan storm water lagoon, that forced the evacuation of homes and the closure of 63 schools. With very little of the aid promised reaching those needing to re-build, the situation is exacerbated by the 100,000 Gazans still homeless after the end of the Gaza War earlier this year.

As for droughts, Jordan, Israel and Palestine all face a future of a steady increase in temperatures of 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius, more dry spells, as well as very much heavier rains and longer dry periods with a net drop in precipitation and an increase in evaporation, with the northern forests and freshwater ecosystems in the Jordan Rift Valley being the most vulnerable. The future until 2050 looks even worse as the region faces a rise in sea levels, extreme rainfall producing runoff and flooding, alternating with even more extreme droughts connected to rises in sea surface temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations. Add to this, increased economic inequalities and increasing irregular migration flows, a decaying and inadequate infrastructure and hyper-expensive health care, then solutions have to be found collectively and in large urban areas, not in sand swept marginal farms from which an astronaut cowboy will emerge to save the world as in Interstellar.

Thus, the main issue is not about where to draw the borders that divide, but how to unite to save the space and water both societies share, how to have the three states of Israel, Palestine and Jordan share one homeland. If they cannot share the environment, they will never be able to share Jerusalem.

To return to our original question, why did Jordan boast that it had better access than Israel, not only to the Obama administration and the American government, but to the Republican-dominated Congress? Is there any validity in Rabbi Marmur’s speculation that Jordan and the PLO have a vested interest in the status quo and prefer an administration of the right in Israel with whom they cannot make peace rather than a government of the left when the resistance to making a peace agreement will shift back to them?

I have a simple answer to the Jordan access issue which I will document in more detail, hopefully, later this week.

In the interim, I suggest the answer to both questions is “Yes!” For though Bibi Netanyahu may be a Republican in disguise, he sometimes pisses even American right-wingers off. In contrast, Jordan, even when it introduces a UN resolution that the USA promises to veto, coordinates and explains its policies in detail to the Americans. Jordan has close connections and has fully informed both the Obama administration and Congress that the proposed resolution in the UNSC is a feint. The Obama administration understands basketball. It understands that the path to a peace agreement will not be a straight line and that an agreement coming from the right might have more resilience than one coming from the left. After Kerry’s year-long immersion in the negotiations, it is clear that even if the centre-left in Israel comes to power in March, there will be no peace agreement. As there was not when Meridor and Barak made their generous offers to the Palestinians. But the Arab League must be kept on side.

Palestine

Palestine
by
Howard Adelman

This morning, I was going to continue my survey of Middle East countries, primarily in relationship to Israel, and in continuation of my blogs on Iran, Egypt and Turkey, by writing on Jordan. However, yesterday I received a copy of a resolution that Jordan, as a newly-elected rotating members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), was circulating to existing and newly-elected members of that Council that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had approved on Wednesday. The proposed resolution has been published in this morning’s Haaretz and is appended hereto.

Since October, the PA had been promising to ask the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution requiring Israel’s retreat to the pre-1967 line, but evidently thought there was a better chance of obtaining the required 9 of 15 votes of Council members needed to pass if the resolution was brought to a vote after the new Security Council takes office on 1 January 2015 and when five of the existing members are replaced by five new members. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan had been circulating drafts since November. On 29 November 2014, a pan-Arab draft on a Palestinian state had been sent to the Security Council as the United Kingdom, France and, a non-member, Germany, were evidently preparing their own versions. All this was taking place against the background of a number of European states, beginning with Sweden, recognizing Palestine. In October, the British parliament, with an overwhelming majority, passed a non-binding motion recognizing Palestine as a state.

On the 17th of December, almost as soon as the blue-lined (final version) draft resolution had been made available to the Security Council, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced that the US would veto the resolution. The quick promise of a veto was not expected. In fact, it had been uncertain whether the administration would even veto at all. The swift announcement is an indicator that the Obama administration regards the current resolution as an outlier. The USA, especially the Obama administration with its multilateralist approach to international issues, has been wary of using its veto power in the UNSC. On 1 February 2011, the US cast its first veto in the UNSC to block a draft Palestinian resolution declaring Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as both illegal and an obstacle to peace. This was followed by the year-long Kerry initiative that finally collapsed this past spring.

The government of Israel had unequivocally expressed its opposition to the resolution. But so did key leaders of the opposition. On Wednesday, Tzipi Livni urged John Kerry to announce the US intention to veto the resolution. Israel’s announcement of its opposition to the resolution and its intention to try to prevent it from passing may seem redundant given the threat of a US veto, but a vetoed resolution has moral force that a defeated resolution lacks. It is this difference between passing the resolution that is vetoed and failing to even pass the resolution that explains why the resolution is being submitted at this time. The Palestinians think they have the votes in the new year to pass the resolution.

However, Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour, on behalf of the PA, announced that it is not seeking a speedy vote, and, further, that it is willing to negotiate the terms of the resolution. In other words, this is an effort to restart peace negotiations under other auspices even if the veto hangs over the whole process. The veteran Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, said that the PA wanted a statement of clear principles of peace.

What did he say they were?
1. A Palestinian state within the 1967 borders;
2. Jerusalem as its capital;
3. The release of all prisoners;
4. A declaration that all settlements are illegal.

As we shall see, they are not quite congruent with the published resolution, especially the third principle above. Nevertheless, given this statement of principles, and given that it took the USA less than 24 hours to promise a veto, why did Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Joudah, accompany the release of the resolution to other member of the UN Security Council with the boast that the Hashemite Kingdom, because of the prestige of the King, was more influential than the State of Israel, not only with the US administration and the State Department, but the US Congress as well?

Before answering the latter question, let’s turn to the version of the resolution that has been published. (See the addendum to this blog.) After the fourteen clauses in the preamble that reiterate past UN resolutions and principles on the matter at hand, and after offering a polite nod to American previous efforts, there are twelve principles set forth in the resolution. The thirteenth clause merely says that the Security Council remains open for discussion. In other words, under the cover first of PA openness to further negotiations, followed, presumably, by UNSC openness to negotiations, the general principles of a peace agreement are intended to be etched in stone, or, at least, in history, as the basic terms for a peace agreement.
Clause 1 reiterates the traditional UN position on a two-state solution calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and a final peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians within mutually and internationally recognized borders. It requires that the second sovereign state come into being within one, not two, years, and that the Israeli occupation come to an end, but does not specify that the occupation end at the same time as the State of Palestine comes into being. The clause calls for the Palestinian state to be contiguous (the West Bank and Gaza?) and viable. Unlike earlier informal versions circulated that had not been blue-lined, this formal version did not call for the “founding” of two states as if Israel did not exist and would only come into being coterminous with the recognition of a Palestinian state.
Clause 2 sets forth the basic terms of the peace agreement to be reached by further negotiations: A. The borders will be based on the 4th of June 1967 borders, that is, the borders prior to the Six Day War fought between the 5th and 10th of June 1967 and not the internationally recognized borders of the 1923 Sykes-Picot line agreement, the proposed 1947 partition lines or the 1949 Armistice lines. Between 1949 and 4 June 1967, the borders on the ground became the de facto borders. Further, the new borders envision land swaps, presumably as negotiated in the Oslo process, but specifies that those land swaps are to be both limited and equivalent.

Basing the negotiations on the 4 June 1967 borders would mean that the old city of Jerusalem goes to Palestine, but Jerusalem is dealt with separately in the resolution. Palestine could insist on moving its border back onto the north-east quadrant of Lake Kinneret (Lake Tiberias), contrary to the 1923 historical border, giving Palestine equal rights to the waters of the lake. The Jordan River between Lake Kinneret and Lake Hula becomes the basis for a boundary. At that time, the main issues were riparian rights to the river and lake rather than control of the underground aquifers. (For a very helpful discussion of the 4 June 1967 borders see Frederic C. Hof, “The Line of June 4, 1967” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/67line.html). By implication, the Golan, annexed by Israel, goes back to Syria as well, presumably, including the Jewish settlement of Mishmar Ha-Yarden captured by Syria in the 1948 war.

B. There is a provision for third party peacekeeping and for ensuring that there is no terrorism, but Israel is given a deadline for ending its occupation in phases by the end of 1917.

C. In a phrasing adopted from the peace proposal of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah, there will be a just and agreed solution for the Palestinian refugees based on resolution 194(III) without specifying a “right of return”; this implies compensation rather than return as the main route for resolving the Palestinian refugee issue.

D. Jerusalem is to be a common and shared capital for both countries and freedom of worship will be secured, a solution that goes beyond recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel with the old city left as a question mark, for a shared capital harks back to the UN resolution that proposed that Jerusalem remain united but internationalized or bi-lateralized in the current resolution. Further, Israel cannot even agree on “freedom of worship” among women, and men and among the various competing divisions within Judaism, so how can “freedom of worship” be guaranteed on the Temple Mount (Heb., Har Habayit; Arabic, Haram esh-Sharif)?

E. The resolution specifically points to water among other outstanding issues that will have to be settled.
Clauses 3 and 4 are both pro forma: 3) The Council agrees that the permanent agreement must immediately lead to an end of occupation and mutual recognition; 4) A timetable establishing the security arrangements through negotiation must be formed.

However, clause 5 is significant in welcoming Palestine as a full UN member. Up until recently, this was expected to be the heart of the resolution brought before the UNSC, a quest for permanent membership and, hence, recognition of Palestine as a state. The PA instead has decided to go for broke and place the UN membership issue within the framework of its position on a peace agreement. Since the US is promising a veto (which the PA had to know when they endorsed the resolution on Wednesday), it means that the Palestinians are going for a moral win beyond UN membership. The PA wants a formal resolution passed by at least 9 of 15 members of the UNSC supporting its position on a peace agreement and, thereby, implicitly legitimizing a position that both the US and Israel would not support. It prefers that moral victory more than full membership in the UN, though passage of this resolution will enhance its possibility of attaining that membership, especially if the timeframe is the end of 1917.

Half of the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are re-elected each year. Though non-permanent or rotating members have no veto right, their combined votes can be very effective. Possibly 10 of the 15 members after 1 January 2015, when the vote is expected to take place, can be expected to support the resolution – China and Russia as permanent members and up to 8 of the 10 rotating members: Angola, Chad, Chile (likely), Jordan, Malaysia, Nigeria (likely), Spain (even though it beat out Turkey which would have certainly supported the resolution but, as pointed out in yesterday’s blog, has become more and more diplomatically isolated) and Venezuela. Only Japan and Lithuania of the rotating membership are in the “no” camp.

Angola takes its positions based on international law and the fundamental principle of self-determination. Malaysia, which already had wide sympathy because of the Malaysian МН17 Boeing crash, has positioned itself as the leading Muslim state opposed to Islamic State on ideological grounds. It convened a conference of leading experts on Muslim law which defined a Muslim state as one which guaranteed economic, political and social justice while the rights to life, freedom of religion, family, property, dignity and intellect are upheld. Recall further that most of the new members campaigned for their positions, not on simply a management of conflict agenda, but a conflict prevention agenda. On this plank, Spain was a leading proponent and backs up that position by providing peacekeeping troops. Venezuela, which campaigned on a platform of UN reform (President Nicolás Maduro called the charter of the UN high poetry), received unanimous support from Latin America and 182 out of 193 votes for its membership in spite of opposition by the United States. That means the resolution can be expected to get 9 and possibly even 10 votes in the UNSC before it is vetoed by the US.
The rest of the resolutions are expressions of motherhood:

6) The Council urges both sides to engage seriously and act together to guarantee peace and refrain from any act of incitement. Therefore, the council calls on all international states and organizations to support the negotiations with confidence-building measures.

7) The Council calls on all sides to stand behind their commitments to the International humanitarian law.

8) The Council encourages regional efforts to obtain peace in the Middle East, citing the Arab Peace Initiative as a reference.

9) The Council called for a new negotiating framework with the support of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement in a timely way, beginning with holding a new international conference on the issue. The Council proposes assembling an international peace committee to launch negotiations. This has diplomatic significance for it removes the US from the leadership in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and search for peace and shifts it to the UN. Further, other countries are called upon to through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements.

10. Both sides are called on by the Council to refrain from taking one-sided, illegal steps, such as construction in settlements. (Note the indirect method of labeling the settlements as illegal.)

11. The Council urges both sides to immediately begin improving the unstable situation in the Gaza Strip and provide humanitarian aid through the different UN agencies.

12. The Council calls on the UN General Secretary to file a report stating the application of the decision within three months.

Note that there are no clauses calling for the release of prisoners.
Both the motives and strategy of the PA are clear. So is the reason for the US promising to veto the resolution as currently worded. The ground has been set for another negotiating route far more favourable to the Palestinians. But why did Jordan boast that its link with the US administration, with Congress and with the State Department is stronger than that of Israel? In the light of the swift promise of a veto, this seems a gross overreach.

I will try to answer this question in my next blog on Jordan.

Draft Resolution (17 December 2014)

Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,

Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,

Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,

Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,

Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties,

Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),

Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,

Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,

1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;

2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:
– borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed limited, equivalent land swaps;
– security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region.
– A just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);
– Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;
– an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;

3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;

4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;

5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;

6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;

7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;

8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;

9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;

10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.