(September 12, 2018 / JNS)
The report from the Al-Bawaba news web site, based in Amman, Jordan, was headlined: “Amman to White House: Jordan is Not Palestine.”
This followed the floating of the idea that the Palestinian Authority and the Kingdom of Jordan would form a confederation. The idea is not new. You can find it discussed in Raphael Israeli’s 1991 book, “Palestinians Between Israel and Jordan: Squaring the Triangle” and a decade earlier in this one.
I myself would not reject the idea of a confederation but I admit, I am not convinced that the acceptance of any form of government or political administration would prove that the Arabs-called-Palestinians are capable and even willing to manage their own affairs responsibly and successfully. My view is that they simply do not want Jews to have a state.
But to return to the view Al-Bawaba asserts is that of the fourth king of the Hashemite Jordanian dynasty that “Jordan is not Palestine.” If he means by that that Jordan and a “Palestine” must be two separate Arab states, then he is obviously rejecting a two-state solution for that means that the historic Palestine Mandate would then evolve into two Arabs state versus one Jewish state, one with a 20 percent or so Arab minority.
Since Jordan and a “Palestine” would have no Jewish residents, that plainly is quite an unfair resolution of the century-old Arab conflict with Israel and Zionism. It is also unfair in that the current Hashemite king, Abdullah II, is the scion of a refugee family from Saudi Arabia—one that was forced to flee its homeland after the Ibn Saud dynasty took over the country. If there is a “right of return,” maybe the Hashemites should demand to be allowed to return to the Hejaz.
Abdullah I arrived as an Emir in Palestine in November 1920, intent on marching north to Damascus from where his younger brother, Faisal, had been expelled by the French. Not wanting problems, the British awarded Faisal the throne of Iraq. However now that Abdullah was in Transjordan, Winston Churchill deliberated with his aides in Cairo in March 1921. Arriving a fortnight later in Jerusalem, he informed Abdullah that his could rule Transjordan.
The deal was eventually sealed after Great Britain obtained the consent of the League of Nations in 1922. Article 25 of that body’s decision to reconstitute the Jewish national homeland restricted the geographical boundaries and the rights of Jews to immigration to and close settlement on the Land of Israel and it reads:
In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions.
But note: Palestine extended from the Jordan River eastward towards the Iraqi Desert.
Dear King Abdullah, before we solve the problem of the Arabs-called-Palestinians, to your liking or otherwise, let us not confound basic geography.
Jordan is located in historic Palestine, as the Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Mamelukes and Ottomans administered it. We cannot have Jordan rewriting geographical history.
As for whether today Jordan has any Palestinian characteristics, Uri Savir, Israel’s chief negotiator for the Oslo Accords, in pushing for the confederation idea in a 2013 article noted that
“There is a clear and close link between the West Bank and the East Bank. About 70 percent of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin.”
If opponents of Israel’s administration of Judea and Samaria—what they refer to as a “West Bank” (and where is that other “East Bank,” if not in Jordan)—based their disapproval in part on a so-called “demographic threat,” they cannot easily, and shouldn’t be permitted to, dismiss the demographic reality of Jordan as a “Palestinian” entity.
Many plans have been proffered to the Arabs-called-Palestinians. There was autonomy, and confederation and condominium. They rejected all. They accepted the Oslo idea, but have gone nowhere with it. There was disengagement from Gaza and that was to Israel’s complete detriment.
There needs be an interim arrangement. Israel cannot trust a terror group disguised as a political entity. Jordan must be part of the development of a coexistence and peace that would reliably test whether Israel can tolerate a distinct geo-political reality in Judea and Samaria, no matter how I personally find that idea wrong and as one that will prove to be unsuccessful.
But no matter how things proceed, or recede, from this moment in history, Jordan cannot be allowed to pervert basic geography. We cannot let that country’s leaders confuse us. On April 24, 1950, the Jordan House of Deputies and House of Notables “annexed” the West Bank and Jerusalem and, I may point out, no country protested that illegal occupation. The resolution adopted read:
… basing itself on the right of self-determination and on the existing de facto position between Jordan and Palestine and their national, natural andgeographic unity and their common interests and living space, Parliament … declares its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State … (my emphasis).
King Abdullah, sire, one cannot avoid what was. Jordan is part of Palestine as a geographical region. So why not put into practice the only true two-state solution, the ultimate historic resolution of the conflict: Israel, including Judea and Samaria (we’ll need Egypt to resolve Gaza) will be the Jewish state and Jordan as the Arab state. Arabs need not move out of Judea and Samaria, but some form of Jordanian involvement that is less than sovereignty can surely be created?
Even if you do not agree, please, let’s keep the geography correct.
As for the confederation suggestion, a poll, conducted in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Ramallah, has produced some interesting results. While about two-thirds rejected and 29 percent accepted a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, when asked about the trilateral confederation, that is that Israel is part of it, 75 percent rejected it and 18 percent accepted it. My reading of that is that Israel is so despised that they reject even of confederation that would include the Jewish state.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and author.