Jordan’s King Abdullah is fast beginning to realise the serious ramifications threatening the continued rule of the Hashemite family dynasty in Jordan resulting from the failure of negotiations over the last 16 years to create a new Arab state between Jordan and Israel - “the two state solution“.
Jordan’s intensive diplomatic support for the “the two state solution” has come apart at the seams as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - emboldened by comments made by President Obama - now refuses to contemplate re-opening negotiations with Israel until Israel ceases all construction and building activity in the West Bank including the provision of residential housing to accommodate natural growth.
Apparently Abbas regards adding a bedroom, a family room or a parent’s retreat to an existing house as an obstacle to resuming negotiations. Completing partly constructed houses to lock up stage is apparently anathema to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has made it clear that it will not be accommodating Abbas’s farcical demand for a total freeze on all construction in the West Bank.
Some very neat diplomatic footwork will now have to be negotiated by President Obama - if Abbas - and Obama - are to save face and if Abbas is to be persuaded to resume the stalled negotiations.
This process has already begun with President Obama stating on 18 August:
“The Israeli government has taken discussions with us very seriously,” adding that he “was encouraged by what I am seeing on the ground.”
Abbas however now also finds himself embroiled in a serious conflict of interest - negotiating for the “two state solution” as the head of the Palestinian Authority whilst simultaneously chairing Fatah which calls for a “one state solution” - the total destruction of Israel.
Israel needs to seriously consider whether it should resume negotiations with Abbas whilst he retains both positions following his re-election as Chairman of Fatah in Bethlehem last week.
The long running power struggle between Hamas and Fatah continues unabated. The intrusion of a new terrorist movement into Gaza politics - Jund Ansar Allah - has seen 30 Gazans killed and more than 100 wounded in fratricidal blood letting last weekend. Gaza and the West Bank remain divided into separate Hamas and Fatah fiefdoms with no end to that confrontation in sight.
The prospects for the Palestinian Authority ever again being a credible and reliable negotiating partner with Israel in these chaotic circumstances has descended to rock bottom. Further negotiations with the Palestinian Authority have become pointless and have no prospects for success.
For these reasons it has become imperative that a new Arab negotiating partner or partners be found to sit down with Israel to determine the future sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza.
Jordan - as the last Arab State to occupy the West Bank between 1948-1967 - is perfectly suited to fill the role left by the castration of the Palestinian Authority‘s power and influence as a solid and reliable negotiator able to reach an agreement and more importantly ensure that it is enforced.
Jordan has begun to panic as its role in resolving the West Bank sovereignty issue is now being more frequently discussed - as events of the past few weeks have indicated.
Sarah Honig writing in the Jerusalem Post on 6 August - “Another Tack (Trans) Jordan Is Palestine”- highlights Jordan’s origins as one of the two successor States - with Israel - in former Palestine.
A flurry of diplomatic activity reportedly occurred this week as Israeli envoys secretly travelled to Jordan:
“to assuage concerns that Israel plans to transfer Palestinians from the West Bank to the Hashemite Kingdom”
Jordan’s decision to withdraw citizenship granted to those Arab residents who originated from west of the Jordan River seeking a new life and future in Jordan has provoked much resentment and unrest from those affected by that decision.
King Abdullah has now taken the extraordinary action of dismissing dozens of senior officers, including major and brigadier generals who were reportedly forced to agree to early retirement. In an address to the General Staff a few days before undertaking the purge of the generals, the king warned of internal and external plots designed to spark unrest among the Palestinian majority of Jordan‘s population:
“I clearly reiterate that no force can compel us to do anything against the interests of Jordan and Jordanians. The one who speaks about threatening Jordan, its identity and stability, and threatening our national unity, does not know Jordan or Jordanians and has not read their history.”
King Abdullah however needs to pay heed to the following resolution passed at the 8th conference of the Palestinian National Council of the PLO (now also headed by Abbas) in February-March 1971:
“Jordan is linked to Palestine by a national relationship and a national unity forged by history and culture from the earliest times. The creation of one political entity in Transjordan and another in Palestine would have no basis either in legality or as to the elements universally accepted as fundamental to a political entity. It would be a continuation of fragmentation by which colonialism shattered the unity of our Arab nation and our Arab homeland after the First World War.
But this fragmentation has not prevented the masses, either west or east of the River Jordan, from feeling that they are one people, or from remaining united against the conspiracy of imperialism and Zionism.
In raising the slogans of the liberation of Palestine and presenting the problems of the Palestine revolution, it was not the intention of the Palestine revolution to separate the east of the River from the west, nor did it believe that the struggle of the Palestinian people can be separated from the struggle of the masses in Jordan..."
This resolution - whilst posing a direct threat by the PLO to the Hashemite family’s continuing rule in Jordan - can also be used to political advantage by King Abdullah - if he is prepared to rise to the challenge.
Reunifying the heavily populated Arab areas of the West Bank with Jordan in an enlarged Jordan with newly created boundaries would allow all its West Bank residents to enjoy Jordanian citizenship and equal rights with the rest of Jordan’s residents totally freed from Israeli occupation and control.
Jordan has enjoyed a signed peace treaty with Israel since 1994. Jordan is therefore uniquely placed to negotiate the future sovereignty of the West Bank with Israel by agreeing to a new internationally recognized border that will be mutually respected and observed by both Israel and Jordan.
The sooner King Abdullah steps up to the plate - the easier he will sleep at night.