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A Solution for the Middle East?

A friend of mine has reminded me of a letter I had sent to the American Ambassador in London in March 1991. On the eve of the Arab summit in Beirut, conditions are still so much the same that I offer my formula as a practical solution to the endemic Middle East problems, solving the Palestinian and the Iraqi problem together in one go.

This was my letter of 1991:

12 March 1991

H E Henry E Catto
United States Ambassador

Your Excellency

Jews from Arab lands hold the key to any successful resolution of the Palestinians’ problem, which must be viewed in the context of the wider Arab-Jewish settlement of the Middle-East.

Since 1948, and even before, Jews in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and other "Arab" countries had to leave their ancient homelands because of discrimination and persecution. They now number over 2 million, having settled mainly in Israel but also in the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada. While Israel has integrated its refugees, the Arabs have deliberately kept theirs in squalor for political reasons.

The Middle East conflict is not between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs but, as is being slowly appreciated, the conflict is with the neighbouring Arab countries that relentlessly waged war on Israel, incited the Palestinians not to come to terms with the Jews, financed terrorism, and rejected all United Nations’ resolutions.

There can be no peace in the Middle East unless these same Arab countries are made parties to an eventual settlement, bearing their share of the refugee problem and the cost of their settlement in their own areas.

The Jews from Arab countries are the guid pro quo of the Palestinian Arabs – the other side of the coin. And, in any future negotiations, if Israel is going to represent the Jews from Arab lands, then the neighbouring Arab countries should also represent the Palestinians. If, however, the Palestinians are going to have a separate voice in a regional peace conference or dialogue then Jews from Arab lands must also have a separate representation.

The trouble in the Middle East goes back to the end of the First World War and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire. Mainly through the influence of Colonel Lawrence and other Arabists in the British Foreign and Colonial Offices, the Arabs were given more than they deserved or were entitled to, in complete disregard of the rights and interests of the other nationalities of the region. To consolidate their ill-gotten gains the Arabs have acted wildly and irresponsibly – culminating in Saddam’s eight year war with Iran and his aggression on Kuwait. To the credit of American and British leadership Saddam was stopped in his tracks before he and his confederates could hold the world to ransom and plunge it in a new dark age. There must be an overall solution to the problems of the Middle East.

The solution must be global, for there can be no peace in one corner of the Middle East while Lebanon slides to a slow death; while millions of Kurds cannot attain autonomy; while non-Arab minorities in Iraq remember their massacres and their stolen lands; while the Shia majority of Iraq are oppressed; while Arabs control five million square miles of territory and non-Arabs are denied any territory; while some Arab rulers pocket most of the oil wealth and Israelis keep tightening their belts. These petrobillions have made of Iraq a dangerous aggressor and of Kuwait a target for aggression.

The solution must be global, for there can be no peace for the Palestinian Arab refugees while the material and political rights of Jewish refugees from Arab lands are ignored. The Jews have an historic right to a share of the Fertile Crescent – its territory and its wealth – indeed superior to that of the Arabs. As to Resolution 242, this was firmly rejected by the Arabs who must not now be allowed to play a game of Heads, we win – Tails, you lose.

To the PLO, who say they want to establish a free, multi-racial, democratic, secular and progressive Palestine, we say we want to establish a free, multi-racial, democratic, secular and progressive Middle East. To those who say Zionism is responsible for all the trouble in Palestine, we say that Arab imperialism is responsible for all the trouble in the Middle East.

An outline for a Middle East peace plan can be the following:

1. Israel to be confirmed within her present borders.

2. The refugeees in Gaza and the West Bank, nearly half of their Arab population, to be settled in Jordan which becomes the Palestinian state. Any Arabs who do not wish to live under Israeli rule can also go to Jordan-is-Palestine. Under pressure from President Truman a million Jews were allowed forty years ago to leave Arab countries and go mainly to Israel. This was to be the first leg of a reciprocal exchange of populations that would establish peace between Jews and Arabs. But only a trickle of Palestinian Arabs were allowed to replace them. The exchange of populations must now be completed. King Hussein to be "punished" by offering him the throne of Iraq. His grandfather, King Abdulla, was meant to become King of Iraq.

3. Kurdish rights to be implemented by returning Mosul and Kirkuk to Turkey and by giving autonomy to the 10 million Kurds within the Turkish Republic. Turkey’s good behaviour for the last 70 years and her membership of Nato warrants this confidence.

4. A reduced, mainly Christian, Lebanon to be created from Junieh, north of Beirut, to the border with Israel, with the rest of old Lebanon going to Syria.

5. The security structure in the Middle East to include Israel.

6. The United States and Great Britain (with some lesser participants) to replace OPEC by forming the Petroleum Central Selling Organisation (PECSO) to acquire the right of marketing oil worldwide at say $30 a barrel of which $20 goes to the countries of origin. Germany and Japan must not continue to make hay in the Allied sun. All the countries of the region including Israel, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Turkey to share in the $20.

I am, Your Excellency,

Very truly yours.

Naim E Dangoor
on behalf of Iraqi Jews in the United Kingdom

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