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Jordan: Strong, secure and up to all challenges

Apr 16,2019 - Last updated at Apr 16,2019

There are many reasons why I disagree with the current scaremongering over a purported threat to Jordan, posed by the so-called “deal of the century”, if it will ever come to light.

Although we still do not know the exact text of the deal, the main features of the plan have already been presented to some parties in the region by way of sounding their reactions. Not only are any such ideas totally irrational and impossible to sell, even to the assumed prospective supporters, they are also totally disconnected from the realities that exist in the region.

Obviously, the deal’s terms were worked out with full endorsement of the Israeli government. But the exaggerated manner of the floating ideas so far suggest that Israeli plan designers were mainly keen on having Washington commit totally to Israel’s maximalist demands away from the rotating clichés of the two-state solution and the other peace process ideas.

While US commitment to Israel’s demands has never been in doubt, Israel is hardly satisfied. Traditionally, successive US administrations maintained a seeming displeasure with the illegal Jewish settlements, repeated peace process slogans, such as the two-state solution, and urged conflict resolution along those lines. Israel never liked that; even in the absence of real US pressure on it to moderate its usual dithering.

For a change, the current US administration offered Israel a unique opportunity to remove any remaining doubts, shifting US policy from the ambiguous and the ambivalent approval of Israel’s position, however unlawful and obstructive, to full unconditional and openly declared adoption of anything on Israel’s wish list.

This was clearly demonstrated by US President Donald Trump’s decisions on recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Other measures included attempts to terminate the role of UNRWA, thus closing the Palestinian refugees’ right of return file, and to punish the Palestinian Authority for rejecting US ideas.

Having won the recent Israeli general elections, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu may now work on his campaign promise of annexing all of the Jewish settlements illegally built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem, likely with US approval. Netanyahu already cemented his commitment to not remove one single settler and to annex all settlements, whether the large ones or the “outposts”. The outposts are the small settlements built by settlers supposedly without formal Israeli government permission. Formerly, Israel considered such outposts unauthorised, claiming that they would be removed at some point.

Whether the plan would at a later stage include annexation of all of the West Bank or not, Netanyahu has made it clear to the Trump peace team that Israel would keep control of all of the area extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea in any future settlement, with or without annexation. That covers the entire West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

As Trump’s deal of the century is ”likely to stop short of ensuring a separate fully sovereign Palestinian state”, according to a Washington Post article on April 14, Netanyahu’s quest for permanent control of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem obviously, may be a foregone conclusion.

But even if all that ends up happening in Israel’s favour, the situation on the ground remains the same: The occupation, the explosive situation in Gaza, the mounting frustrations in the West Bank as a result of half a century of cruel occupation, the house demolitions and the continued displacement of Palestinian natives, the terrible conditions of Palestinian detainees in Israel’s prisons, the desperate acts of violence from Palestinians against Israelis, which may at any time spark a larger war, the severe living conditions and the ongoing uncertainty and hopelessness on the part of more than 6 million Palestinians deprived of their rights to freedom and self-determination.

Apparently, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s peace team believes that the promise, mere promise, of economic improvement of Palestinians’ living conditions would make them easily abandon their struggle for their legitimate rights and freedom from occupation. The Kushner team keeps repeating that while previous peace attempts have failed since 1948, they are coming up with something novel which would prove successful this time. In fact, they are simply ignoring the striking reality that all previous efforts have failed because they did not rightly and justly address the Palestinian political rights; the very root causes of the conflict. Rather than avoiding the causes of previous peace plan failures, the Kushner team are, in fact, reintroducing a poorer version of them. They do not seem to benefit from past peace process failures, which also included economic peace, tried to turn the explosive status quo into a permanent settlement without removing any of the existing abnormalities, sought to build peace on deep layers of injustice and latent frustrations and believed that problems would disappear once shoved under the carpet.

The chances of the Trump team peace plan to make any headway, therefore, are very slim. Even Netanyahu’s government may not be very enthusiastic about Kushner’s success, as most of what Israel wanted done has already been done without any agreement limitations and entanglements.

Moreover, the Palestinians are united in rejecting the plan and they have already resisted all pressures, as they are patiently enduring the consequences of harsh punitive measures imposed upon them to submit, but they are not showing any sign of hesitation. How could any plan proceed without Palestinian acceptance?

So why is there so much unjustified worry and scaremongering about a possible danger to Jordan from the deal of the century?

Admittedly, the way the deal of the century is introduced and the leaks of its contents, so far, do constitute a major cause of concern world over; not for Jordan alone. Jordan is not the main target of the plan and will not have to confront it alone.

In response to the Washington Post article, mentioned above, reporting that the deal of the century excludes the option of a Palestinian state, 37 high-ranking European leaders, including prominent former prime ministers and foreign ministers, published a letter in the Guardian newspaper urging the EU to reject Trump’s peace plan if it does not provide for the rise of a Palestinian state. The letter said that the EU must continue to insist on a “Palestinian state alongside Israel... with Jerusalem as capital of both states... and a fair solution to the Palestinian refugees”.

When His Majesty King Abdullah, the custodian of the Jerusalem Muslim and Christian holy places, confirmed, in no uncertain terms and on more than one occasion, that Jordan would never compromise on Jerusalem as the future capital of the envisaged Palestinian state, that Jordan will not be the alternative homeland for the Palestinian people, who have every legitimate right to establish their own independent state on their national soil in Palestine, with Jerusalem as their capital and with full Jordanian support, and that Jordan will not accept any plans for offering permanent residency to Palestinian refugees so that they abandon their right to return to their homeland in Palestine, His Majesty was not emphasising such known facts out of fear for his country’s secure future; the King was simply responding to the sceptics and the rumour-mongers who were spreading such doubts.

Israel’s attempts to keep Palestinian refugees where they are in many Arab countries permanently are not a new tactic. Neither is Israel’s ludicrous claim that Jordan is Palestine. None of such fantasies have ever been taken with any seriousness anywhere.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is too strong for any other party to determine its status. Jordan has an outstanding record in successfully handling repeated crises, pressures and ominous conspiracies. The state institutions, the visionary Hashemite leadership which Jordanians rally around constantly and confidently, the uniquely competent armed forces and the noble mission of the country are all guarantees of a permanent and a safe future. Yes, there are difficulties, challenges and pressures, but Jordan is always prepared to confront any challenge.

Instability in the region and the unresolved problems, of which the Arab-Israeli conflict is most significant, are widely recognised as major causes of profound concern, including in Jordan. But never to the point where panic should be allowed to spread. The stability which Jordan enjoys, despite all odds, is always recognised as the key to regional stability.

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