Bolton in Fantasyland

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"Bolton in Fantasyland"

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For some reason, major op-ed page editors feel that it’s a good idea to publish op-eds expressing old discredited ideas from discredited figures like John Bolton. For his latest offering, Bolton puts forward what he calls a “three state” approach to the Palestinian problem, in which “Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty.” Matt Duss offers some response. Marc Lynch further observes that this idea is opposed by the government of Egypt, opposed by the government of Jordan, and opposed by the Palestinians. It’s a total non-starter.

It’s also worth appreciating the essentially circular logic behind the suggestion. Behind the “in some configuration” euphemism lies the fact that what Bolton is proposing is that Israel grab whichever choice slices of the West Bank settlers or the IDF want, and Jordan take over administering the rest. But why not just make this offer directly to the Palestinian leadership, rather than to the government of Jordan? Well, because no Palestinian leadership that wanted to stay in power would or could accept it. The idea is deemed too objectionable to the Palestinian population and to Arab sentiment writ large. But this exact same problem arises when you substitute “Jordanian leadership” for “Palestinian leadership.” The underlying problem of the unacceptability of this solution to Palestinian public opinion exists no matter who you put in charge. Putting this idea on the table is just a way of pretending to have an idea to offer while in fact you’re completely unwilling to grapple with the actual situation. If anything, trying to do this would probably make Israel’s security problems much worse by jeopardizing Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and (especially) Jordan as the existing regimes would be destabilized by the presence of the new populations. The idea here is that the government of Jordan could act on Israel’s behalf as the jailer of the Palestinians in a way that allows Israel to avoid moral and political culpability for them. But the Jordanians aren’t nearly that stupid, and I have some trouble believing that Bolton is actually stupid enough to think they might be.

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