By Mudar Zahran, JPOST JUNE 2014
The concept of a Palestinian state in Jordan is not new. In fact, Jordan was created based on the Faisal-Weizmann agreement by which Jews agreed to give away 78 percent of the British Mandate for Palestine to the Hashemites to establish a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs.
The Hashemites have never kept their promise. Even today, the UNHCR reports that Jordan’s Palestinian majority is still treated as “refugees” by Jordan’s king.
Still, the concept of a Palestinian Jordan – and a Jewish Israel – has come back to life after the Arab Spring.
Jordan has an 88% Palestinian majority – as indicated by a US Embassy Amman cable – and if the king falls, that majority will elect a Palestinian president, a Palestinian parliament and a Palestinian government. Therefore, we Palestinians will have a state for the first time ever.
Countless reports confirm the Palestinians have been oppressed by this king much more than by his father; in fact, Abdullah is still stripping Palestinians of their passports.
Therefore, a Palestinian Spring in Jordan has been likely to happen for the past three years.
In 2011, I wrote several articles predicting a Jordanian revolution. This was dismissed by the king’s cheerleaders in Washington, DC, and Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the revolution took place in November 2012. Half a million, mostly from the refugee camps, took to the streets calling for a regime change.
Then, the US openly supported the revolution. Nonetheless, Israel stood up to defend the king. Israel’s lobby and diplomats particularly in Washington, DC, Moscow and Qatar were relentless and convinced the powers that be to defuse the revolution.
The king survived, but nonetheless he remained deserted by his historic allies. The US does not seem to care for him much; his pleas for additional aid were never answered. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are angered by the king’s open alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood (yes I did say the Muslim Brotherhood), Assad’s Syria and Iraq’s Shi’ite government.
Also, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Egypt’s President Abdel Sisi was “not eager to deal with Jordan’s king because of his support to the Muslims Brotherhood and refusal to ban them.”
The only reason the king is still in power today is because of Israel’s intelligence and diplomatic support. Nonetheless, this king makes sure to punish Israel for each favor it does him. As Yediot Aharonot reported, the king was the one who proposed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s anti-Israel “peace” plan to President Barack Obama in 2013; it is Abdullah’s plan, not Kerry’s.
Also, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that he asked the US for $55 billion in exchange for “accepting” his own Palestinians! Furthermore, the Hamas-Fatah unity deal was brokered directly by the king and Qatar. The king used his Muslim Brotherhood allies in Amman to lobby Hamas to accept the deal, another slap in the face to Israel.
But why is Israel tolerating all of this? Israel’s dogma is: The Palestinians in Jordan are hostile and they must be kept under the Hashemites’ control.
Nonetheless, keeping the king in power is too demanding for Israel. Can Israel keep it up forever? Also, with the amount of money and intelligence work invested in keeping the king on his throne, Israel could place any secular leader in power for a Palestinian Jordan.
Further, the Israeli establishment must understand that a Palestinian state in eastern Palestine (a.k.a. Jordan), even if hostile, is a problem on Israel’s borders, while a Palestinian state the West Bank, even if friendly, is a problem inside Israel itself.
A few months ago, the protests against the king stopped and many of his cheerleaders in Washington, DC, and Jerusalem began celebrating. Then, I warned that the peaceful protesting was over, and violence was in. My statements were again dismissed by the king’s pep squad.
Today, Maan in the south has been raging for months with gun battles between locals and the king’s police. There have been many casualties, and RPGs were used to destroy several armored carriers. Ajloun in the north, has also been burning with confrontations, and two refugee camps witnessed exchanges of fire with the police. The death toll stands at three per week and rising.
And as icing on the cake, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is now pledging to “liberate Jordan.”
Is that what Israel expected when it did everything to keep Abdullah in power? Israel has wisely kept itself distant from the entire Arab Spring affair to avoid being blamed for that mess. Israel should adopt the same policy with regard to Jordan.
Israel does not have to take action, all it has to do is let the king go. And maybe then direct its effort toward making the US support a secular Jordanian leader.
Those who claim the king will be replaced by Islamists need to examine the facts: the king has been aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) since day one, he refused the Saudis’ demands to ban the group and said in an interview with Jeffery Goldberg that there was a margin of 10% disagreement between him and the MB. The king’s minister of reform said to Al Jazeera: “The MB is a part of the Hashemites’ regime” and MB leader Zaki Bani Rusheid said recently, “The king is a necessity…and we oppose limiting any of his powers.”
Further, the MB recently held elections for its governing board and out of 100 only nine were Palestinians. Therefore, Jordan’s Palestinians are not pro-Islamist and when the king falls, the MB will fall with him.
Also, border security between Jordan and Israel will not be compromised, because the American military has one of its largest bases in Jordan already, and the Jordanian army is financed and fully controlled by the US Defense Intelligence Agency. This means borders will remain secure and no civil war will happen.
A declassified White House document aired by Al Jazeera in 2011 showed Hennry Kissinger wanted the Palestinians to win the war against Hussein in 1970 to establish what he described as “a Palestinian settlement.”
We in the Jordanian opposition support that kind of settlement by all means – and a Jewish Israel.
We would never agree to our Palestinian brothers being deported from Ramallah to Amman; nonetheless, they should become Jordanian citizens residing in Israel, not citizens of a Jewish Israel.
We see the new Jordan as a secular, demilitarized and welfare state.
The opportunity for a Palestinian Jordan and a Jewish Israel is ripe. Nonetheless, the opportunity knocks, but does not beg.