by Boris Shusteff

_May 2, 2002 should be written in the book of the Israeli-Arab conflict with golden letters._ After nearly half a century of futile attempts by the world community to make work the delusional idea of creating a second state for the Palestinian Arabs on a meager 2,268 sq. miles of territory, a prominent American political leader has finally offered the only sane approach to solving the conflict.

In an interview with MSNBC, House Majority leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican, said that he supports the idea that Israel should expand her sovereignty to the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and that the Palestinian Arabs should be resettled in the Arab countries. He said, "There are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land and soil and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian state."

_Armey's statement is of utmost importance._ While it is a great pity that he is only a Senator, with this statement he guarantees himself a place next to the great American Presidents who advocated the idea of the relocation of the Arabs from Palestine to the Arab countries, even before the creation of Israel._ This idea is grounded in the understanding that the Jews should be able to reestablish their national home unimpeded by Arab terror.

_Let us recall history._ On October 25, 1938 Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a long meeting with the British Ambassador to the U.S., Sir Ronald Lindsay._ The main topic of the conversation was Palestine._ Adolf Berle, the Assistant Secretary of State wrote of this meeting, "The President was full of Palestine._ He had suggested to Ronald Lindsay that they call a conference of Arab princes; that they lay down, say $200,000,000 buying a farm for every Arab who wishes to leave Palestine, the money chiefly to be used in digging wells, which is perfectly possible in the Hedjaz" (1).

_Roosevelt had another meeting to continue the discussion of the issue with Lindsay during the first half of November._ At this meeting, the President said that he thought that "the British should call in some of the Arab leaders from Palestine and some of the leaders from the adjoining Arab countries._ The British should explain to them that they, the Arabs, had within their control large territories ample to sustain their people"(1)._ Roosevelt said, "Some of the Arabs on poor land in Palestine could be given much better land in adjoining Arab countries"(1).

_The British Government, for obvious political reasons, was against the idea and tried to dissuade the American President, preparing at the end of December a memorandum stating that it did not "believe that any considerable quantity of water could be obtained in Transjordan," therefore making the idea of resettling the Arabs unviable. However, Roosevelt was skeptical about this kind of argument._ Sharing the memorandum with Louis D. Brandeis, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he wrote, "the British ought to explore for water to the south and to the north." He added that he had heard from the French that "the land in Arabia across the Red Sea from Djibouti and back of the coastal range of mountains, has all kinds of possibility for settlement - and also that the Iraqi people are entirely willing to take a large Arab population for settlement on their newly irrigated lands" (1).

_By 1942 Roosevelt had become even more convinced of the advantages of moving the Arabs out of Palestine in order to allow the Jewish settlement there._ In a letter to Brandeis, he put forward his plan for the transfer of a large number of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq._ And in December 1942 he told Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, "I actually would put a barbed wire around Palestine, and I would begin to move the Arabs out of Palestine.... I would provide land for the Arabs in some other part of the Middle East.... Each time we move out an Arab we would bring in another Jewish family.... There are lots of places to which you could move the Arabs._ All you have to do is drill a well because there is a large underground water supply, and we can move the Arabs to places where they can really live" (1).

_In November 1944, several days after he was reelected President for his fourth term, Roosevelt discussed the Palestine situation with the Under-Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius._ Stettinius wrote in his diary, that Roosevelt felt confident that he would be able to "iron out" the whole Arab-Jewish issue. "He thinks Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it... and he has definite ideas on the subject._ It should be exclusive Jewish territory" (1).

_The idea of moving the Arabs from Palestine to Iraq was even more feverishly championed by Herbert Hoover, the thirty-first President of the United States. The famous "Hoover Plan" was born on November 19, 1945 and published in the "New York World-Telegram" under the headline "Hoover Urges Resettling Arabs to solve Palestine Problem."

_Hoover approached the issue as an engineer, stating that as a result of his solution, the "emotional, racial and political aspects of the problem would be subordinated in a process by which both Jews and Arabs would benefit materially" (1)._ Proposing to move the Arabs from Palestine to Iraq he wrote, "My own suggestion is that Iraq might be financed to complete [the]... great land development on the consideration that it be made the scene of resettlement of the Arabs from Palestine. This would clear Palestine completely for a large Jewish emigration and colonization" (1). His statement continued, "A suggestion of transfer of the Arab people of Palestine was made by the British Labour Party in December 1944 but no adequate plan was proposed as to where or how they were to go" (1).

_He indicated that "the Arab population of Palestine would be the gainer from better lands in exchange for their present holdings._ Iraq would be the gainer for it badly needs agricultural population" (1)._ Hoover wrote,_ "I realize that the plan offers a challenge both to thestatesmanship of the Great Powers as well as to the good-will of all parties concerned._ However, I submit it and it does offer a method of settlement with both honor and wisdom" (1).

_It is this method of settlement with both honor and wisdom that was reawakened by Dick Armey when he suggested the relocation of the Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza to the Arab countries._ Armey's suggestion is the only pragmatic approach to the solution of a seemingly irreconcilable problem._ The point is that a heavily populated Arab state is non-viable on 2,268 sq. miles of territory (this is the total area of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza strip).__ It is easy to demand the creation of a new "Palestinian state" but for some reason, no one pauses to consider that it is a crime to try to cram over 10 million people (expected population there by 2025 at the current population growth rate) into two tiny, disconnected parcels of land._ Especially since these territories are both water-scarce areas, with the Gaza strip being "the most horrifying case of all."

_On April 25, Keith Marsden, an economist from Geneva, wrote an article in the "Wall Street Journal," in which he said that "a sustainable Mideast peace can only be built on two firm foundations._ First, Israel's right to exist behind_ secure borders must be recognized._ Second, a viable Palestinian state should be created._ Though all these achievements appear unreachable right now, it's the viability part that looks the hardest at this point."

_Marsden hits the nail directly on the head._ Viability is completely ignored by all those who advocate the creation of an Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza._ Marsden notes that real development in this area started only after Israel took it over in 1967._ This was in great measure due to integration with Israel's economy._ According to the UN in 1999_ (prior to Arafat's decision to go to war)_ "27% of Palestinian workers were employed in Israel." Marsden wrote that more than 60% of total Palestinian Authority (PA)_ revenue from 1995 to 1998 constituted money transferred to it by Israel through "direct taxes levied on Palestinian workers in Israel and indirect taxes on Palestinian imports through Israeli ports._ Net transfers from the Israeli Treasury to the PA amounted to $542 million in 1998." Another significant factor in thedevelopment of the West Bank and Gaza was the flow of official aid from Western donors. "Net assistance to the territories averaged $580 million annually from 1996-2000."

_If an Arab state is created in this 2,268 sq. miles of land, in order to become self-sustainable (which is what_ is meant by the concept of "sovereignty") the Arabs will have to forget about these aforementioned sources of revenue._ They will stop being applicable._ First, Israel will not employ the Palestinian Arabs_ (nobody can force a sovereign country to employ citizens of another sovereign state, especially a hostile one)._ Second, as Marsden notes "Western aid donors may begin to question whether it is just or equitable that Palestinians receive nine times more aid per head than people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their average incomes are little more than a quarter of Palestinians'."

_It is na´ve to expect that help for the Palestinian Arabs will come from their Arab brethren._ Trading arrangements among the Arabs exist only on paper._ Marsden reveals an absolutely astounding fact._ He writes that, "Exports within the Arab Common Market, which groups together Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, amounted to only 1.6% of their total exports in 1999._ It's surprising that Arab countries, which share a common language, religion, culture, ethnic heritage and geographical proximity, should trade so little among themselves."

_All of this means that an overpopulated Arab state on the two tiny, non-contiguous parcels of water-scarce land, lacking all natural resources, and deprived of "free" money, needing somehow to sustain its population, will be absolutely unviable._ The Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza will be still-born from the moment of its declaration._

Thus, in this option, a "sustainable Middle East peace" is a mirage._ Only Armey's suggestion of relocating the Palestinian Arabs to some Arab state is worthy of consideration if one really wants to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict._

1. Chaim Simmons. A Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 1895 - 1947.



Boris Shusteff is an engineer._ He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.

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