Jordan - 77% of former Palestine - moved this week to start revoking the citizenship of 70% of its population who originated from the remaining 23% of former Palestine - today called Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In doing so Jordan’s Interior Minister Nayef Al-Kadi stressed
"We insist that Jordan is not Palestine, just as Palestine is not Jordan,”
The speciousness of Mr Al-Kadi’s argument is exposed on the official website of Jordan’s late King Hussein - who died in 1999 - in which the late King stated:
“The majority of Jordan’s [then] population of 4.4 million people are Arabs descended from various tribes that have migrated to the area over the years from all directions.”
Arab spokesmen from both sides of the Jordan River have asserted for decades that there is no cultural religious or ethnic difference between Arabs living on either side of the Jordan River.
King Hussein himself stated in his book Uneasy Lies The Head [1962 p.118]:
“Palestine and Jordan were both under the British Mandate, but as my grandfather pointed out in his memoirs they were hardly separate countries. Transjordan being to the east of the Jordan River, it formed in a sense, the interior of Palestine”
Abu Iyad told the Near East Report on 8 January 1990:
“You cannot make distinctions between a Jordanian and a Palestinian. It is true that we encourage unity between Arab peoples but the relation between Jordan and Palestine in particular is clearly distinctive; all those who tried in the past and are still trying to create divisions between the Jordanian and Palestinian people have failed. We indeed constitute one people”
Yasser Arafat told Der Spiegel [No.29/1986]:
"Indeed Palestinians and Jordanians are one people. No one can divide us.”
The Crown Prince of Jordan wrote in Foreign Affairs in 1982:
“Small as Jordan is, our country is politically, socially, economically, militarily and historically inseparable from the Palestinian issue.”
Jordan’s latest decision to revoke the citizenship of its majority population was stated by Mr Al-Kadi to have been made at the request of the PLO and the Arab world to consolidate the status of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people - heaping one fiction on another as the PLO is locked in a deadly struggle for power against Hamas that sees no prospect of being resolved.
Those Jordanians who have their citizenship revoked will suffer serious financial hardship and loss of rights guaranteed by Articles 5 -23 of the Jordanian Constitution.
Article 20 of the Constitution provides:
“Elementary education shall be compulsory for Jordanians and free of charge in Government schools“.
Under the Jordanian Nationality Law 1954 a Jordanian woman marrying a non-Jordanian man can neither pass on her nationality to her children nor grant them residency permits. Such children do not have access to many rights, including enrolement in the school system, social entitlements, or political rights.
If this provision were to be enforced against the children of those parents now being stripped of their citizenship one could confidently predict a lot of unrest and civil disturbance as a result.
Jordan appears to be taking a calculated gamble in this current citizenship stripping exercise in an attempt to completely distance itself from becoming involved in the allocation of sovereignty of the West Bank - which it occupied between 1948-1967 until it was lost to Israel in the Six Day War.
Jordan’s current action is designed to sustain the fiction that there is a national differentiation between Arabs living west of the Jordan River and those living east of the Jordan River. This fiction has been the single greatest obstacle to ending the 130 years old conflict between Jews and Arabs in former Palestine. It has led to futile negotiations over the last 72 years to create a new Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza between Jordan and Israel where no such state has ever existed before in recorded history.
Attempts by President Obama to create favourable conditions for reviving the stalled and inconclusive peace talks between Israel and yet another fictitious entity - the Palestinian Authority - nee the PLO - to create such a new fictitious state have so far proved unsuccessful. In the unlikely event that these negotiations were to be resumed they would not result in any final status agreement being concluded since the parties remain too far apart in their negotiating positions without any real prospects of the yawing gap between them being bridged.
Only Jordan can break the deadlock in the West Bank by once again occupying and annexing the heavily populated Arab areas within the West Bank and incorporating such areas within the territorial boundaries of Jordan. The extent of such annexation needs to be resolved in direct face to face negotiations with Israel which would require the international boundary between those two existing sovereign states to be redrawn.
Two countries at peace with each other since 1994 have a far better chance of allocating sovereignty in the West Bank between them than the current failed strategy of trying to implant a new state between them that has been - and will continue to prove to be - an abysmal failure.
Proceeding with the Jordanian option will preclude any of its citizens losing their current citizenship and will restore the status quo existing before this hasty and ill considered decision was taken.
It will reaffirm the vision of Jordan as seen by the late King Hussein in an address given by him to the nation in Amman on 31 July 1998 in which he stated that Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin
“ all have the full rights of citizenship and all its obligations, the same as any other citizen irrespective of his origin. They are an integral part of the Jordanian state to which they belong, on whose soil they live, and in whose life and various activities they participate.”
King Abdullah appears to be an honourable man who respects and reveres the memory of his late father. It would be a pity if he were to succumb to political pressure from the PLO and the Arab League and depart from these noble principles laid down by the late King Hussein.
The attempt to strip any current citizen of his citizenship rights in Jordan should be universally condemned and steps need to be taken by King Abdullah to have such decision immediately annulled.