Jordan: The meaning of King’s Ramallah visit

Aug 08,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Hasan Abu Nimah

The visit of His Majesty King Abdullah to Ramallah, the temporary seat of the Palestinian Authority, two days ago, is by no means an ordinary step. Coming at this critical moment, the visit sends a very important message of support to all Palestinians. Most significantly the visit is a clear Hashemite Jordanian response to all circulating theories that the Palestinian cause has become a non-priority matter, overshadowed by the many other crises absorbing regional and world attention. 

It also responds to Israeli intransigence, Israeli extremist government’s continued obstruction of all efforts to revive any meaningful peace talks as well as Israel’s ongoing illegal colonisation of occupied Palestinian land, believing that the current instability in the region is the right opportunity to seize and to create more irreversible facts on the ground.

There is no question that the prospects for reactivating the moribund, so-called peace process are meager. Neither the regional Arab situation, nor the prevailing international political climate are conducive to generating momentum.

The promise emanating from  the new Trump administration has quickly faded. All that the US Middle East envoy, Stephen Greenblatt, managed to do so far was to liaise between the parties in a desperate search for common grounds. Not only did he find none, but worse, he was probably stunned to discover how wide the gap is in fact that separates the Israelis from the Palestinians and the Arab sides.

President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has also been tasked with the goal of forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace, seems to have abandoned the mission much faster than any one would have expected. Thought to be fit for the assignment in view of his close ties with the Israeli government, and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, Kushner tried too, but with no visible success either. The advantage of having family ties with Netanyahu turned out to be more of a liability than an asset for the young peacemaker’s mission. 

Described by US media as ill-informed and inexperienced, Kushner’s first lesson on the historic Arab Israeli conflict was offered by the Israeli prime minister, whose views on the situation are totally self-serving and  extreme; thus critically obstructive. All Kushner did as a result was to pass on Netanyahu’s message to Abbas who was understandably infuriated by being subjected to the same prohibitive Israeli conditions for bringing life to an almost-dead process. And that was it. Washington is heavily absorbed by its own problems and so is much of the Arab region.

The UN and the so-called international community remain constrained. They traditionally abstain from taking any initiative of their own with respect to the explosive Middle East situation without an American green light, unlikely for the time being. That mostly applies to Europe as well.

That leaves Jordan alone to act and to continue to shoulder a huge responsibility regarding the Palestinian situation: The conflict in its entirety, support for the Palestinian Authority, as well as the daily developments  in occupied territories that need constant monitoring and urgent handling. 

Only recently King Abdullah’s relentless efforts had succeeded in resolving the Jerusalem holy site crisis resulting from an Israeli decision to first close the Haram Al Sharif compound to Muslim worshipers and then to install iron gates with electronic monitors as conditions for reopening Al Haram. 

Seen as an attempt to impose undue Israeli control on the Islamic holy place in flagrant violation of both international law as well the Hashemite custodianship of the Islamic and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem, the Israeli measures were rejected by King Abdullah who demanded their immediate removal. 

The King’s efforts were strongly supported by massive Palestinian Muslim and Christian demonstrations of rejection and sit-ins that continued until the Israeli measures were fully removed.

The King’s visit to Ramallah comes as part of an ongoing, but unique, Jordanian commitment to the Palestinian cause since the very beginning of the historic conflict.

Obviously this article is not the adequate venue for reviewing the special Jordanian-Palestinian relationship which is deep-rooted in history. I just want to refer to some important highlights.

The Palestinian problem had been on Jordan’s list of priorities since the country gained its independence in 1946. It was only because the Jordanian Arab Army that fought fiercely, heroically and professionally, during the first Arab Israeli war in 1948 in Palestine, that the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the entire Old City, were defended and saved from Israeli occupation. 

The unity of the West Bank with East Jordan was initially sought by the Palestinians after the 1948 war, as a natural return to the pre-World War I situation, where no borders had ever separated the two peoples or the two territories. It was a unique unification model other Arab countries could have followed, had the situation not been steadily deteriorating and distancing the Arab nationalist goal of Arab unity.

My last point, is that four Jordanian kings in a row, within a space of almost hundred years, have struggled relentlessly to protect Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people. In Jordan, the Palestinian cause had never slipped into a secondary place. 

King Abdullah’s continued efforts to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law and justice remains the solid guarantee that no counter-efforts, no obstructionism and no amount of political distraction would put this vital case, extremely vital for regional stability and order as the King keeps reminding, on the back burner.


Categories: Jordan, Palestine

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