(September 4, 2018 / JNS) Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas drew harsh condemnation on Monday after suggesting that the Palestinians were amenable to the possibility of establishing a confederation with Jordan in the West Bank, providing that Israel were party to such an agreement.
Abbas claimed on Sunday that the idea was broached during a meeting with senior U.S. envoys as part of Washington’s efforts to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Trump administration dismissed the report.
Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials also dismissed the idea as being “inapplicable” at this time or any time in the future.
A senior Palestine Liberation Organization official called the scheme “delusional.”
“It is hard to believe this was anything but empty rhetoric meant to throw a wrench into efforts to broker [an inter-Palestinian Fatah-Hamas] reconciliation,” the official said. “Abu Mazen [Abbas] is perfectly familiar with the Palestinian leadership’s position on this matter, as well as with Jordan’s position.”
A senior Israeli minister said that the confederation idea was “not born in a vacuum” and was “on the table.”
He noted that the concept was not without its merits, but stressed that as it is clear that Abbas will never take it seriously, any discussion should be tabled until the post-Abbas era.
If and when conditions support promoting the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, such a plan would be presented only after the moderate Arab nations weigh in on it, leaving the Palestinians little choice but to accept it, said the Israeli minister.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the issue.
Jordan, for its part, rejected the idea outright.
Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghuneimat said Sunday that the matter “is not open for discussion,” stressing that the kingdom was in favor of a two-state solution that would be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
A senior Jordanian official noted that “many in Israel claim Jordan is, in fact, Palestine—an idea we utterly reject. We were surprised to hear Abbas say he would support the concept of a confederation.”
Israeli Arab lawmaker Jamal Zahalka also excoriated Abbas. “The fact that the head of the Palestinian Authority even speaks of this type of plan is an insult,” the Joint Arab List MK wrote on Facebook.
He further criticized Abbas for admitting he holds occasional meetings with Shin Bet security agency director Nadav Argaman and lauding the close coordination between the Israeli and Palestinian security forces.
“Abbas boasting about how he and the Shin Bet chief agree on 99% of security issues is a knockout [to Abbas],” he said.