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Alternate History

Dominion of Palestine

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Introduction

Israel has lost the Third Arab-Israeli War, and the Palestinians are expecting to regain a homeland. That's not quite what they're going to get.

Timeline

Point of Divergence

When Jordan warns Egypt (officially still United Arab Republic) of the incoming Israeli air force, the Egyptians are able to pass the message on to the targeted air fields. (OTL) The Israelis find the MiG-21's waiting for them and after a vicious battle, they're forced to call off the next few waves of attack. Egypt has lost dozens of planes and several air fields, but Israel won't have air superiority in the rest of the war.

Without the air advantage, Israel is pushed back out of Sinai and the Golan Heights, and Egypt begins to advance over their border. The Israelis dig in hard, making the Arabs pay for every inch. After two weeks of fighting, pressure from the global powers and national interests (the Israelis want to survive, the Arabs weren't expecting such a costly campaign) lead to an armistice: the "Jerusalem Treaty".

July 1967 to August 1971

Under the treaty, Israel demilitarises its borders in exchange for United Nations peacekeepers (UN Israeli Border Force); Israel is allowed to use the Straits of Tiran but sedes some of the water rights to the Arab states; Jordan and Israel officially recognise each other’s half of Jerusalem; and a road is to be built linking the West Bank and Gaza. President Nasser boasts that this is a victory for Pan-Arabism.

As previously promised, the Palestine Liberation Organisation is given some official control over the Gaza Strip, ruling it on Nasser's behalf. It still remains a barely tolerated group in Jordan, however, and PLO/Jordanian tensions ratchet up as the Palestinians agitate for semi-autonomy there as well. The Seven Points agreement fails.

Tension is rising in Gaza as well: the Palestinians were promised that they could return home to Israeli land, and their patrons instead cut a deal that benefitted them instead. Other factions spring up in Gaza, where the PLO are slowly seen as having 'sold out'.

During all this is the “War of Attrition”, as the PLO continues attacks on Israel. Half of their attacks fail because the PLO can't get past the UNIBOF peacekeepers; enough of their attacks get through and Israel, with the demilitarised borders, cna only hope to intercept them with armed police. Under siege, Israel becomes more authoritarian and militarised. Every time a peacekeeper is shot, Egypt and Jordan come under fire for allowing the PLO to operate.

Fed up, King Hussein II of Jordan starts a crackdown in the summer of 1971. The Palestinians hit back ("Summer Rising"/"Black Summer", depending on your politics). However, the PLO are better armed and have greater backing than in our timeline, and Hussein is pressured to cut a deal: the West Bank will be given semi-autonomy as a dominion.

Dominion of Palestine: August 1971 - 4th September 1972

Three major problems will haunt the Dominion of Palestine from the start:

  • Jordan "encourages" all Palestinians in its territory to move to the dominion. The demand for housing, food, and water shoots up.
  • The Gaza PLO members are demanding a seat at the table, which the West Bank members consider an affront: they weren't part of the Summer Rising.
  • Gaza now wants to be part of the dominion or have semi-autonomous status itself, and Egypt - Palestine's main patron - is clear they won't allow it.

Housing and feeding all its citizens, never mind building up infrastructure, would have taxed even the best of statesmen. The PLO spend a crucial few months caught up in political infighting (and outbursts of genuine fighting in the streets) and desperate attempts to keep on Egypt’s side. This becomes more crucial when Nasser dies and President Sadat comes to power: Israel (which doesn’t hold Egyptian territory in this timeline) isn’t as big a concern for him. Keeping Sadat happy means more disgruntlement in Gaza, which feeds back into the infighting and growing discontent with the PLO.

Late 1971 and early 1972 sees a sharp increase in the War of Attrition from the Jordanian side of the border – the PLO believe military action will keep the organisation together and the people onside, even if it will damage relations with Jordan. Many of the attacks fail (unknown to them, Jordan is informing Israel of their movements) and the rot is greater. The Palestinians are crammed, starving, scared, and now their sons are dying to make the leaders look better.

The continuing attacks have one impact on Israel: a state of emergency was declared in August 1971, and Israel has quietly transitioned into a police state. Arab residents are being interned and ‘off-message’ activists are being arrested. Military spending has shot up: a Fourth Arab-Israeli War is seen as inevitable and plans are being made to seize and clear the West Bank once it starts.

Another militant faction in Gaza decides to launch its own attack in June, on the anniversary of the last war – Israel launches a surprise retaliation from the air and sea (bypassing UNIBOF), hitting targets across the strip. Egypt returns fire but is unhappy with being driven to this. The PLO protest that they were unaware of the attack but this just flags up their lack of control. Gaza’s limited autonomy is suspended and the region brought back under full Egyptian control; scattered militants wage a campaign against Egyptian forces, and the PLO has to help crush them or lose all of Cairo’s support. New movements are springing up, including the Summer Rising hardliners funded by Libya, socialist and communists groups given covert funding by the Soviet Union, and factions in the police who are backed by Jordan. It’s clear to outside observers that Palestine can’t hold together.

Palestinian Civil War

On 5th September 1972, rival PLO militants get into a fight in Hebron. This is the straw that breaks the camel's back: a retaliation begats more retaliations until fighting has spread across the country. Only the border and central East Jerusalem remain secure, backed by Jordanian police and the government's own guards. The PLO leadership tries to appeal to its members but control is clearly lost. The Jordanian army and police decide to wait several days, then roll in and sweep aside the entire militant force.

This is a mistake: on the 7th, Summer Rising and other hardline militants decide to seize the opportunity. Close to two hundred fighters drive up from Gaza and seize control of the bridge; then a larger force smashes into Jerusalem. By the 8th, the dominion government has fled and Summer Rising is overrunning the city and other points. The Rising leaders declare "the Free Republic of Palestine" (despite not winning yet).

In the early hours of the 9th, the Israeli Air Force launches a surprise raid on East Jerusalem, neighbouring towns, and the Gaza-West Bank road: the Israelis want to cripple the "Republic" before it can be properly formed. Some of the Summer Rising's leaders and over a hundred soldiers are killed, but (with most strikes being on key infrastructure) most deaths are civilians or PLO militants. Summer Rising takes the city.

While the Arab states beat the drum for war - and Israel finds itself cut off from US aid, Kissinger privately declaring they won't receive "so much as a nail" - Palestine itself is now in complete chaos. Jordanian forces march across the border and are acclaimed as saviours; pet police commanders prepare to back up the force.

A coalition of minor political groups has formed, dominated by left-wing groups (bar the local communists). Their concern is that Jordan is going to shut down the Dominion of Palestine entirely, or that Israel will bomb the entire West Bank. On the 8th, the coalition sent delegates to Amman to plead for the Dominion to remain. Promises were made of reforms, harsher control of borders, and allowing the disarming of militias. After debate, King Hussein decides to go with this - if it doesn't work, the Palestinians' ire will go towards the coalition - and on the 10th, Hussein announces a new Emergency Coalition Council.

The Emergency Coalition broadcast a message for all police and PLO militants to support "the King's men" - those who don't are gunned down, but most fall in (for now) rather than be massacred by Summer Rising. By the 14th, Jerusalem is under siege.

Horrific street fighting carries on until the 22nd: with the road down and southern Israel at their backs, Summer Rising has nowhere to run and many brigades fight to the last man. The government centre is reclaimed on the 19th, however, and that's when the Energency Coalition declare the conflict over. They arrange for international media to film them entering the council buldings, guarded by Palestinian policemen (Jordanian soldiers are guarding the square off-camera).

The conflict is commonly called the Palestinian Civil War, while Jordan refers to it as Black September; Palestinian activists and sympathisers call it the Battle for Survival.

Dominion of Palestine: 22nd September 1972 onwards

The Emergency Coalition inherits a devastated capital city, thousands of deaths, a weary populace, enemy militants to put on trial, and surviving PLO militants that need to be shut down and reintegrated into society. Recovery and the rule of law has to be forced onto this; the member-parties have to set political rivalries aside or see the dominion shut down for good. An extra source of tension is that after much horse-trading, Yasser Abed Rabbo is the governor: he and his party, the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, had to promise to reduce their Marxism and accept a monarch, something that chafes (and Jordan is watching them very closely, in case it needs to 'deal' with them).

(more to come)

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