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Jordan and the Islamic summit

May 21,2018 - Last updated at May 21,2018

Leaders of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states attended on Friday an extraordinary summit in Istanbul to show solidarity with the Palestinians and to condemn the provocative relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem. The summit came on the heels of an eventful week. Not only has the United States inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, but also Israel committed a massacre against unarmed Palestinians.

Amid the turmoil in the region and the fact that some heavy weight Arab regimes have not lived up to their responsibility towards the Palestinian cause, the OIC reaffirmed the importance and centrality of the Palestinian cause. Important as it may look like, it is far from being satisfactory. Leaders are yet to match their verbal solidarity with the Palestinians with deeds.

For this reason, His Majesty King Abdullah is perhaps the only Muslim leaders, who knows exactly what it takes to empower the Palestinians. He knows what is feasible and rewarding. He called for an economic support for the Palestinians to frustrate Israel’s plan of turning Palestine to a place where Palestinians cannot live.

Given the well-known positions of US President Donald Trump with regard to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, one should not be oblivious to the risks that could jeopardise Jordan’s vital national interests. To be sure, the ruling right wing in Israel does not seek a two-state solution. The Israeli government’s deeds speak louder than words. The current ongoing policies in the occupied territories vindicate the perception that Israel seeks nothing but expansion.

To go to the bottom on the issue, one needs to think of how to make it almost impossible for Israel to ditch the two-state solution without paying dearly. Of course, there are those who champion the resistance option so that the Palestinians can set a high price tag for the continuation of the occupation. I am not sure that the conditions on the ground allow for such option. While the Palestinians are still deeply divided, Israel is too strong to be faced head on. Therefore, the only option available is to empower Palestinians economically so that they can hold on to their land.

Against this backdrop, one can understand the calculous of Jordan. Israel can always veto any peace effort, but it cannot prevail while the Palestinians hold on to their land. Soon Israel will have to deal with the demographic reality across the Jordan. According to many Israeli estimates, Palestinians will outnumber Jews. Hence, maintaining a Jewish nature of Israel and expanding at the expense of the Palestinians are incompatible objectives. But for this to materialise, Palestinians should not even think of leaving their land in a kind of voluntarily transfer. Luckily enough, Palestinians have learnt a lesson the hard way. Once they leave Palestine, they cannot go back. This realisation explains the reason behind Palestinians steadfast.

In a nutshell, the OIC final communique is a good starting point. However, it takes more than words. I believe that King Abdullah has shown the Islamic leaders the door. It remains to be seen if they can follow up on their pledges and help empower the Palestinians.

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