Jordan and the Palestinians’ predicament


Amid the talks about the “deal of the century”, Faisal Al Fayez, president of the Jordanian Senate, said that Jordan would accept what the Palestinians accept. It is not clear yet if Fayez insinuated that Jordan would have no problem with the peace ideals floated by the American administration.

As of writing this article, there is no official American proposal for peacemaking between the Palestinians and Israel. On various occasions, His Majesty King Abdullah has made it perfectly clear that no one ever talked to him about the deal of the century. Therefore, one finds it hard to understand the remarks made by the Senate president.

Casting aside any possible interpretation of Fayez’s remark, the Jordanian official stance is the same. Short of enabling the Palestinians to have their own independent state, we run the risk of jeopardising stability in Jordan and the immediate surroundings. All I hear from senior officials is one line: Jordan would not step in and assume any role across the Jordan.

Of course, there are some Israelis who have been floating the idea that Jordan should assume a role in resolving the conflict. While Jordan is willing to help solve the conflict, it remains committed to the two-state solution. Few in Jordan, if any, buy into the argument that the sun of the two-state solution has set. Despite Israel’s aggressive, illegal, settlement policy, Jordanians believe that illegal settlement activities are reversible. This means that, in a context of a peace agreement, Israel must evacuate its illegal housing units to allow the Palestinians to establish their own state in 22 per cent of historical Palestine.

New American ideas would only legitimise the status quo. To be more specific, there will be no right of return, no evacuation of settlements, no Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and no border with Jordan. This is a recipe for mayhem, to say the least.

I am not sure that Fayez had a proper understanding of the consequences of the deal of the century on Jordan’s national interests. But what if the Palestinians accept the proposal; does that mean Jordan would accept? Of course not! The running theme in public debate in Jordan is that Jordan would only help the Palestinians set up their own independent state. Moreover, many Jordanians argue that it is Jordan’s duty to help empower the Palestinians as a first line of defence against the aggressive and expansionist Israeli policies.

From a different standpoint, Jordanians need not to worry. Given the regional development and the saga of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it is not clear yet if the American administration will come up with any plan for peace. I personally suspect that the regional environment is not ripe for big ideas. Meanwhile, Jordanians should look inwards to bring about the required reforms, so that Jordan can stand up to any pressure in the years to come. Bluntly put, we should not feel that we could be pressured to accept anything that is not in line with our national interests. Therefore, Fayez’s remarks should not be seen as a trial balloon, or as a hidden official position.


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