The inclusion of the right-wing Likud bloc as nearly a full partner in Israel's national unity government raises doubts about the success of an expected second try at President Reagan's 1982 peace plan. The plan calls for Israel to cede to Jordan territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it won in the 1967 Six Day War, in exchange for peace and a solution to the Palestinian problem.
Prime Minister Shimon Peres' Labor Party favors such a territorial compromise; the Likud adamantly opposes it. To have Israel endorse the Reagan plan, therefore, requires changing the Likud position.
Likud's opposition to territorial compromise is based on two considerations: security and historic rights. The consideration that com=mands most public support is security, which holds that territory relinquished to the Arabs in the West Bank or Gaza may become a base for terrorist attacks, a corridor for invading armies, or a breeding ground for irredentist Palestinian nationalism. These fears relate to Labor's standing proposal, known as the Allon Plan, by which Israel would retain a strip along the Jordan River and Dead Sea, but cede most of the West Bank to Jordan in one large bloc.
To cope with such fears in 1984, one must begin with the realization that the Allon Plan, conceived in 1968, is no longer a feasible basis for territorial compromise. The area Israel would have to relinquish in the West Bank alone now contains some 70 Jewish settlements, inhabited by almost 20,000 people.
Politically, it would be perilous for any Israeli government to try to dismantle these settlements, or to transfer their inhabitants to Jordanian sovereignty. Given the size and fervor of pro-settlement feeling in Israel, such steps could cause unprecedented instability; some say civil war. Nor could the United States be expected to risk Israeli, and hence regional, instability by forcing Israel to adopt these measures.
As a result, it is difficult to find territory on which to compromise. Only pockets of contiguous Arab inhabitation are still available -- and then only with the dismantling of some 20 smaller and newer Jewish settlements.
In the West Bank and Gaza, one could cite eight such pockets which vary in size. These pockets are already separated from each other by strips of Jewish settlement, and from the "East Bank" by the Jordan Valley and its settlements. In the final arrangements for peace, therefore, each pocket could be an enclave surrounded by Israeli territory. Indeed, the only feasible territorial compromise that could be made between Israel and Jordan in 1984 would be to have Jordan rule these enclaves from a distance, similar to the way the German Federal Republic rules West Berlin. In keeping with the Camp David accords, the enclaves would enjoy extensive autonomy, and Jordan would be responsible for security within them. Moreover, they would be out of bounds to Israeli authority, military presence and land acquisition.
Such arrangements should satisfy Likud security considerations. Continued Israeli control of the Jordan Valley and the area surrounding each enclave should make the danger of attack against Israel minimal; and irredentist nationalism will hardly flourish in separated enclaves, each mainly oriented toward Jordan.
A major question is whether the Arabs would accept the enclave idea. Certainly, it falls far short of their maximum aspirations -- an independent Palestinian state or, for Jordan, retrieving the entire West Bank. Yet, the idea addresses the maximum fears of the two Arab parties directly concerned -- Jordan and the Arab inhabitants of the territories -- and therein lies its chance of success.
The Palestinians living in these territories fear that if Israel's occupation continues, they will gradually lose their lands to Jewish settlement, and face the ultimate choice of living under Israeli rule, which they do not like, or of emigrating, with all the attendant insecurity that would involve. Logically, therefore, they should welcome the idea of Arab enclaves, where they would be governed by Arabs, and where Jewish settlement would not be allowed.
One encouraging development is that over the past few years, many, if not most, West Bankers and Gazans have increasingly held the PLO responsible for their misfortunes because of its refusal to negotiate -- or to allow King Hussein to negotiate -- with Israel on a practical basis. Such feelings are manifest on the pages of the leading East Jerusalem daily, al-Quds.
For his part, King Hussein fears that if he assumes authority for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as proposed in the Reagan plan, radical Arab states and the PLO, which oppose Jordanian sovereignty for the territories, will stir unrest among his Palestinian subjects. And even if he were to establish his authority there with the blessing of the Arabs, there is the possibility that the Palestinians, who would then constitute 75 percent of his population, would be impelled to try to replace his regime with one of their own.
Ironically perhaps, the enclave idea may obviate these dangers. As the survival and well-being of the enclaves would largely depend on good relations between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, few radicals, Palestinian or other, should prove eager to challenge Jordan's regime and thereby jeopardize the enclaves. For that reason, Jordan's "enclave connection" may also prove to be the best guarantee for the survival and well-being of the Hashemite regime itself.