Jordan’s opposition to Israel’s planned annexation of lands in the West Bank has been expressed clearly by King Abdullah II, and his Majesty has left no stone unturned in his mission to declare Jordan’s stance against Israel’s annexation proposals universally.
In an article recently published by al-Arab – An Arabic newspaper based in London – Prince Hassan Bin Talal points out that Jordan, a peace loving, refugee-accommodating, and all-around tolerant nation, is entitled to ask these simple and important questions to the international community with regards to their support: if not now, when? If not us, who?
The security of Jordan is quintessential to Israel’s security, and Ehud Olmert made this abundantly clear during an interview with Russia’s RT (Russia Today). He claims that these plans of annexation would jeopardize Jordan’s (and in turn Israel’s) security. Surprisingly, over 300 retired Generals and commanding officers from the IDF and Mossad had echoed the same concerns expressed by Olmert, through a big road sign that they displaced recently to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Even the most fervent supporters of Israel (The Washington Institute, and AIPAC) have expressed their concerns with these ill-advised proposals of annexation, and prominent Jewish Americans such as Aaron Miller, and Robert Satloff concurred. Ranking senator, and leading political figure Bernie Sanders organized protests in Israel opposing Netanyahu’s belligerent propositions.
In short, this movement against annexation includes Arabs and Jews from all over the world, who are united in their opposition to this obscene proposal.
As a result of this global opposition to the so-called “Deal of the Century”, four scenarios emerge as potential responses by the current Israeli administration:
- Annex three major colonial settlements in Gush Etzion, Ariele, and Kiryat Arba’ in addition to the 73 kilometer long areas in the Jordan Valley constituting the borders between Jordan and the occupied West Bank.
- Annex one or two settlements, and postpone the decision with regards to the rest of the areas in the proposal.
- July 1st becomes the day the annexation is declared, but the execution itself is postponed.
- No declaration or execution of the annexation takes place.
Netanyahu’s decision with regards to the annexation will depend on his political circumstances, but his popularity amongst Arabs, in Jordan and the West Bank, and around the world, is virtually nonexistent.
Jordan unequivocally rejects this proposal of annexation for a myriad of reasons, which stem from Jordan’s concerns about the Peace Treaty (1994) with Israel, Palestinian people’s sovereignty and rights, and the stability of the region generally.
There are challenges to Jordan embodied in the amateurish Deal of the Century and the resultant annexation plan:
The first issue is borders. Article 3(2) of the Peace Treaty reads “The boundary as set out in annex 1(a), is the permanent secure and recognized international boundary between Israel and Jordan without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967”. These borders were left to be delineated and demarcated between Jordan and the burgeoning Palestinian State at the end of the final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian liberation Organization (PLO). Israel’s annexation of any territory will further limit the possibility of creating an independent and viable Palestinian State. Instead such entity will be completely included within the Israeli domain, and therefore deny both Jordanians and Palestinians (closely interlinked) any direct contact except through Israel.
The Second Issue is of course Jerusalem. East Jerusalem should be an integral part of the Palestinian entity and its capital. The Hashemite custodianship of the Holy cities and al-Awqaf (Islamic trusts) have been in operation since 1924, almost quarter of a century before Israel came to be. The Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel also included such recognition in article (9), paragraphs (2) and (3). Any denial of such rights is utterly rejected by Jordan.
The third issue is refugees. Jordan hosts about (2.3) million Palestinian refugees who are registered with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA). Any attempts by the United States or Israel to dismantle UNRWA and relegate the Palestinian refugees issue to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) is emphatically refused by Jordan. Most of Palestinian refugees in Jordan were accorded Jordanian citizenship, and by the governing rules of UNHCR, those would lose their refugee status if they have a permanent citizenship granted by any country. Jordan is the largest host of refugees, and any attempt to thwart their inherent and enshrined rights is unacceptable.
The fourth issue is economic relations which were enunciated in Article (7) of the Peace Treaty and were supposedly to grow into free-trade agreement, but have been continuously slowed by Israeli government’s myopic interests. The negative list of goods coming from Jordan to the Palestinian Occupied Lands was so exhaustive in order to enable Israeli exporters to corner the whole Palestinian market. Accessibility to Palestinian markets by Jordan and vice versa will, under annexation, deny any future opportunity of economic exchange between them.
The fifth issue is security. Article (4) of the Peace Treaty deals at length with security. Both sides committed to each other security, sovereignty and integrity. Jordan has strictly observed that and to a less degree Israel also did the same. Annexing the border areas in the Jordan Valley under pretexts of security and strategic interests is not taken at face value by Jordan. Netanyahu, his supporters and allies within the Likud Party and other ultra-religious parties think of Jordan as a part of Aretz Ysrael and at best it is the substitute homeland for the Palestinians. By Israel’s control over the borders between Jordan and Palestine, Israel will have the leverage to evict the Palestinians into Jordan.
In this regard Jordan has no good will towards the current Israeli government.
The sixth issue is water. As we know the aquifers in the Jordan Valley are jointly owned with both Israel and Palestinians. Israel’s full control of such water is viewed by Jordan in a territory that is very poor with water resources to be a transgression on Jordan’s water rights.
This is a summary of the major position of Jordan to any annexation of the West Bank. The only solution is for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to engage full throttle in direct final status negotiations where unilateral decisions are not allowed under any circumstance, and where the legitimate rights of Palestinians are fully recognized by Israel. Short of that, the Middle East will never enjoy peace and reconciliation.