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Is confederation viable for Jordan?

Jun 01,2016 - Last updated at Jun 01,2016

More than two years have elapsed since the last direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

When the Israelis refused to release Palestinian prisoners from a previously agreed to list, the talks, in the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, went up in the air.

The continuation of the stalemate, coupled with the latest right-wing addition to an Israeli government already controlled by settlers, is pushing some Palestinians and Jordanians to rethink the confederation concept.

In many ways, a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation would make sense. It would be a mechanism that could end the occupation and its continued colonial settlement policy.

Confederation with Jordan would present the Israeli public with a security solution that can be guaranteed by a neighbouring country with which Israel has a peace deal and whose leader is a person Israelis trust.

Some statements, activities and decisions further fuelled this discussion.

Palestinian philosopher and strategic thinker Sari Nuseibeh made statements in support of a confederation, provided it is an agreement between the states of Palestine and Jordan, and there are two capitals: East Jerusalem and Amman.

Public opinion polls in Palestine have shown a marked increase in Palestinian support for a confederation. Very few reliable polls are taken in Jordan.

Jordanian and Palestinian officials have been totally quiet on this issue.

Moving the issue from debates and public statements to a more concrete reality is hard.

Hardcore Palestinians will oppose the idea that will dilute the concept of an independent Palestine.

The late Palestine Liberation Organisation PLO leader, Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyyad), was quoted as saying that Palestinians want five minutes of independence and then they would happily agree to a confederation.

The idea of a consequential path that begins with an independent state and then, after a plebiscite of sorts, moves to a confederation is probably not what is being talked about here.

Many worry that the idea being cooked would basically transfer control over parts of the West Bank (without many settlements) from the Israeli army to a Jordanian security force. This would certainly be rejected by Palestinians, especially if, in all likelihood, the Israelis would not ceded control over East Jerusalem.

The fact that Jordan and Israel have found some kind of understanding to deal with Al Haram Al Sharif/Al Aqsa Mosque can be seen as a signal of the two countries being able to detonate explosive problems, but this kind of understanding will not fly with most Palestinians, especially if the Israelis will continue to be sovereign in East Jerusalem.

The biggest hurdle for a confederation would probably be getting Jordanians on board.

The issue requires the support of all East Bank Jordanian before it becomes a reality.

For decades, Jordanians and Palestinians have been forced by history, proximity and in many cases family relations to deal with the region’s most difficult conflict together.

At present, the relationship between Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is extremely cold.

If this idea has any chance of happening, it has to be discussed honestly and candidly at the highest official level.

The international community and Israel have also been rather silent on the issue.

The French proposal for peace talks to be restarted has been largely accepted by Arabs and the world community, but has been stalled by Israelis.

While this and other out-of-the-box ideas are certainly needed to break the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians, the key issue that needs to be always looked at is the occupation.

Any idea that can speed up the end of what the UN Security Council called “inadmissible” occupation will be welcomed, while any idea that will provide cosmetic effects while keeping the Israeli occupation will be rejected.

 

This is the real litmus test for any peace plan.

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Comments

EXCELLENT ANALYSIS. If Israel would accept sharing Jerusalem, it might be enough,even tho no change in settlements. Are there examples of shared cities, to point to? New alternative mechanisms/ structures need to be researched.
Mr. Kuttab seems to be a quite credible Palestinian.

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