The Jordan Option, plain and simple

By Ted Belman (first published Dec 17/17)

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, just tweeted “Jordan=Palestine. So, the capital of Palestine is not Jerusalem but Amman”.

It can’t get any simpler than that.

The primary stumbling block to Israel annexing the land she was promised in the Palestinian Mandate and which she conquered in 1967, Gaza aside, is the fact that 1.6 million Arabs live there. All solutions put forward by the Israeli right, take a stab at the problem. They range from offering the Arabs a path to citizenship to incentivizing them to emigrate voluntarily. The left prefers the two-state solution.

There is great opposition in Israel to the citizenship idea as it would present Israel with an Arab population amounting to 35% of the total population. To have an understanding of how big a problem that would be for Israel, just look at the problems European countries are having with a Muslim minority of only 5 to 10%. Israelis want no part of that nightmare. Paying Arabs to leave is a far more attractive solution.

The leading Israeli voice for offering compensation as an inducement to emigration, is Martin Sherman, the founder of Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He suggests offering $300,000 per family. Such a plan would cost at least $100 billion to get West Bank Arabs to emigrate. This is a mind-boggling sum to most Israelis but Sherman argues that it is affordable.

The Jordan Option represents a different solution, one which would be far less costly to Israel.  It requires changing Jordan from a monarchy to a parliamentary democracy.

After the voluntary or forced abdication by King Abdullah, the Jordan Opposition Coalition, (JOC) led by Mudar Zahran, would form the interim government. Given the fact that 75% of Jordanian citizens are Palestinian, i.e., their grandparents were/are Palestinian, this is only fitting. Besides in the last few years, King Abdullah has alienated both US and Israel for different reasons. They now want him out.

New alliances are forming in the Middle East as the feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia heats up. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt are committed to fighting terrorism and the ideology which fuels it. To this end they have banned the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a terrorist organization and have placed sanctions on Qatar who continues to support them and other terrorist organizations.

Jordan hosts the world headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and its parliament is controlled by both MB and ISIS members.

The King also supports Palestinian resistance to Israel and from time to time encourages them to start an intifada.

As further evidence of the alliances being formed, it is instructive to look at the Islamic Summit held last week in Istanbul. It was organized as a response to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Eqypt did not attend. Jordan, on the other hand, did and aligned with Iran, Turkey and Qatar who dominated the discourse.

Jordan may once have been an ally. It is now, an enemy.

Zahran is imminently qualified for the role. He spent much of his youth in the US where he got a Master’s degree. He also lived many years of his adult life in Jordan where he was employed by the US and served in an intelligence capacity at the US Embassy in Amman.

After criticizing King Abdullah one time too many, he was forced to flee and seek asylum in Britain where he now lives. Shortly thereafter, Jordan tried him in absentia for treason and convicted him.

While in Britain, he earned a PhD and continued to build the JOC and to call for the King to abdicate.

It is the intention of the JOC to make Jordan on friendly terms with Israel and the US. They also intend to revitalize Jordanian citizenship of all Palestinians and to welcome them to emigrate to Jordan as a matter of right.

Therefore all Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere would benefit from this transformation. They could emigrate to Jordan and immediately be full citizens with full rights to pensions, social security and healthcare.

Israel would benefit from the regime change in Jordan, even if no Palestinians in Israel or Judea and Samaria would emigrate,

One of the reasons Israel hesitates to annex Judea and Samaria, is that if she doesn’t give the local Arabs citizenship or a path to it, she will be accused of being an apartheid regime. But the fact that the Palestinians already have Jordanian citizenship, would negate such criticism.

JOC intends to offer affordable housing to anyone who needs it including new immigrants. Saudi Arabia, US and Israel would pick up the tab. Israel could then incentivize voluntary emigration to Jordan.

Currently there are 1.6 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria and 300,000 in Jerusalem. If only 3/4 would emigrate, Israel could accommodate the rest. Everyone wishing to emigrate would be paid market value for their homes.

There are many financial benefits from such a plan for Israel, US and Europe.

Israel has spent $300 billion on internal security since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1995. She would no longer have to carry that burden. In addition, Israel would retain title to all state lands being annexed. These lands would be worth tens of billions. Israel would then embark on a massive building program throughout Judea and Samaria which would greatly reduce the cost of housing in Israel. Both the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA would be disbanded thereby saving the US and the EU close to a $1 billion a year which they currently spend. All good.

That’s the Jordan Option.

As Wilders suggests there would be nothing to stop Jordan from changing its name to Palestine and making Amman its capital city.

April 20, 2019 | 10 Comments »

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10 Comments / 10 Comments

  1. @ sidney weiner:
    My earlier post was a quotation from the Jerusalem Post columnist Seth Franzman, who was summarizing the position of KIng Abdullah’s government. I never meant to support Abdullah’s position, or Franzman’s. I thought that Franzman’s discussion of Jordan’s difficulties integrating the one million Syrian refugees into Jordanian life, finding jobs for them, providing schooling for their children, health care, etc. had some relevance to Jordan’s over-all situation at present.

  2. @ sidney weiner: I agree, Sidney. I’ve never been a fan of the two-state solution. There is currently a four-state “situation,” but its not a “solution” to anthing at all. It is the four-state “problem.”

  3. @ broseman:
    Al Sisi, backed by the Egyptian army, has been in power for over 8 years. The Mullahs have been in power for almost 40 years..
    Mudar backed by the Jordanian army will also be in power for decades.

  4. Regime change seems so problematic. Look at Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Getting rid of a strongman/dictator/king often produces an unknown stronger man or chaos and a failed state. On the other hand President Trump is the best we have had and will likely have.

  5. B”H
    “…to get West Bank Arabs to emigrate” –
    Rabbi Meir Kahane promoted this idea many years ago – and spent some time in PRISON for that. Today his imitators do not risk the same however the idea is still a perpetuum mobile rejected by patent offices many centuries ago. People who do not reject the Torah outright should start with it – or find themselves smth more interesting.
    Efim MAIDANIK, journalist and translator 21.04.2019

  6. @ Adam Dalgliesh:
    2 state solution?
    This game has been going no where for 35 years,…why should it succeed now?
    Besides,right now there are not 2 states but 4 states…..Gaza,Fatah land by the Jordan & Jordan itself,with Israel wedged in the middle(13% of original Palestine Mandate?)
    Perhaps,with the passing of the EU sometime in the near future,things may get simpler without the Jew haters in Europe meddling!

  7. MY FIRST day in Amman, I went to the offices of Caritas, a Catholic humanitarian charity that has helped support refugees and local Jordanians. Located in a multi-story building, their offices are adorned with slogans such as, “We believe in our total responsibility toward migrants and vulnerable people.” They operate a series of projects throughout the country helping refugees. This includes Syrians and Iraqis, as well as migrants. Volunteers and professionals help Syrian refugees, providing essential services such as rent allowances, counseling and a place for children to play while parents receive medical support. Seeing the work that Caritas is doing was a window into the larger challenges throughout the country.

    I’d been to Jordan before to see how the country was facing the crises. In 2016, it was different. This was still a time when Syrians thought they might go home. But in 2019, things have changed. The Syrian civil war in southern Syria, where many of the refugees came from, is largely over. In the beginning, the million Syrians who came to Jordan, of whom around 670,000 registered with UNHCR as refugees, mostly came to avoid fighting in Dara’a and areas in southern Syria. Dara’a, a city visible across the border from northern Jordan, was one of the first sparks of the Syrian civil war. It was in March 2011 that hundreds marched in the city and were shot by the regime’s soldiers; protesters torched a local courthouse and cars.

    The rest is now horrid history. Assad cracked down on the Syrian protesters and a war began. In southern Syria, that war largely became a stalemate when it was clear the Syrian rebels could not take Damascus and rule the country. By 2015, the Russians had intervened and Dara’a and its rebels settled down for a prolonged ceasefire.

    The long, slow death of the Syrian rebellion in the south didn’t have a clear beginning. The Trump administration signed a ceasefire deal with Russia and Jordan in July 2017 that was supposed to prevent a Russian-backed Syrian regime offensive in southern Syria.

    In June 2018, the Syrian regime, boosted by Russia, ended the ceasefire agreements and launched an offensive in the south. The inevitable came for the fighters in southern Syria in the summer. Assad’s tanks retook Dara’a in July 2018. Tens of thousands more Syrians fled the fighting. In October, Syria and Jordan opened a border crossing for the first time in years. Damascus also claimed it was offering amnesty to deserters and draft dodgers in the south, an amnesty that theoretically covered the Syrian refugees in Jordan.

    When I went to northern Jordan in 2016, the refugees were wondering if the rebels could ever stop the setbacks they faced at the hands of the Russians and the regime. They didn’t know what the future held. But when I went to see the same areas in northern Jordan this time, in 2019, the refugees have come to understand what the future holds. However, their response to the situation is not that they want to return, instead they appear to want to remain in Jordan.

    When refugees first arrived in Jordan from Syria, they were accepted as “brothers” by Jordanians at the border. Many locals were sympathetic. Many also had family relationships across the border. Trade had flowed back and forth. Everyone had fond memories of Syria and its products. Soon the trickle became a crisis. Jordanians could see the fighting on the other side. Syrians told horror stories of bombings. A woman I spoke to said she had put her children inside a washing machine to protect them. Everyone had stories like that. Brothers killed, cousins “disappeared” by the regime.

    In Jordan, some first went to refugee camps. The largest became Zaatari, where up to 150,000 refugees were housed. But most refugees didn’t want to live in camps and some 80% moved to cities. Here the rents soon inflated to several hundred Jordanian dinars a month. The Syrians initially were prevented from working; the government didn’t want them competing with locals. Eventually some were alloted permits to work in agriculture and manual labor industries.
    By July 2018, more than 100,000 work permits had been issued. This was to prevent a crisis. The UHCR was strained in trying to support the refugees and groups like Caritas could only do so much. The refugees needed health care. They also needed education. Jordanian schools were split so that there would be classes in the morning for Jordanians and classes in the afternoon for Syrians. A long-term response would eventually see integration of this process.

    TODAY, THE Syrians in Jordan are becoming integrated. With a high birthrate, Syrians in Jordan now have tens of thousands of children born locally. In 2016, fully 338,645 of Syrians registered as refugees in Jordan were under 17. It is thought that of the million, more than 50% are under 18 and many of the Syrians marry early, with 35% of Syrian women in Jordan married before age 18, according to a 2017 study. This leads to even more children born in Jordan by a demographic that is young and has a high birthrate.

    Consequently, the million Syrians will soon have hundreds of thousands of children, and as those children grow up, they will form a whole generation of Syrian-Jordanians. They will likely not want to return to Syria and may become like Palestinians in Jordan – an important part of the social fabric.

    The Syrians say they don’t want to go back because the thousands who did go back after October 2018 didn’t find that the Syrian regime had changed. Its amnesty was smoke and mirrors. Teenage men were taken off for forced conscription. Men were detained and interrogated. The Syrian regime knows that these Syrians have lived in Jordan for many years, the greater part of a decade. They have had access to critical media. They have certainly changed. And they have had more freedom than people had under Assad. They may not have supported the rebels overtly, but they likely supported them in their minds. The Syrian regime is wary of them.

    Jordan won’t force the refugees to go back, but the kingdom knows that it is difficult to host them forever. It knows that there are many Syrian children born in Jordan who are now five or six years old. In a few years, they will be teenagers. They will want to be in university. They will feel Jordanian. They will grow up in classrooms adorned with images of the king. Why would they want to go back to Syria? It will take years to repair the infrastructure in Syria. And many Syrian refugees do not want resettlement in the West, which has shut its doors to refugees in recent years. At the same time, funding will be reduced by UNHCR and it is unclear how the refugees will make ends meet.


    Jordan still cares about the two-state solution and continues to push for it and is very worried about any annexation plans Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have.

    BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN APRIL 20, 2019 14:53

  9. Does Facebook treat Israel fairly when it comes to incitement on social media? Could someone devise a wild enough experiment to test the question? On Tuesday, the NGO Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, known more for its legal wins against terrorist organizations and state-sponsors of terrorism, continued their recent social media activities with an experiment over the incitement issue.

  10. All posts on Israpundit are automatically posted on my FB page.. But this time I got this notice,
    “If you or other admins of this Page continue to post things that don’t comply with the Facebook Community Standards, Jordan is Palestine may be permanently unpublished.
    If you’d like, you can temporarily unpublish Jordan is Palestine while you review your Page’s content. When you’re finished, you’ll be able to republish your Page.
    Would you like to unpublish your Page now?”