King Abdullah’s recent interview in the Wall Street Journal indicates the extent of His Majesty’s concern at the continuing failure to achieve the slightest breakthrough in creating a new Arab state between Jordan, Israel and Egypt following 17 years of failed international diplomacy to bring such a new state into existence.
The King is clearly worried that other solutions will need to be looked at if
- the lives of the West Bank Arab population are to be transformed;
- there is to be any resolution on the future status of Jerusalem and
- the refugee status of those former Arab residents of Palestine now living in Syria and Lebanon is ended.
King Abdullah understands that any such solutions must involve Jordan and that Jordan cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. He is not at all happy with facing the challenges that will throw the spotlight on Jordan and the role it will have to play if the current status quo is to be changed
Jordan has allowed Israel to shoulder the sole responsibility for changing the status quo of the West Bank since ceding any claims to the West Bank in 1988 - and has happily sat back and let Israel bear the international odium for failing to do so - although :
- Jordan comprises 77 per cent of the former territory of Palestine and together with Israel constitute the two successor States to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine
- Jordan unified and incorporated the West Bank into the state boundaries of Jordan between 1948-1967 with the acquiescence and consent of the West Bank Arab population and granted Jordanian citizenship to its residents
- Jordan refused to negotiate with Israel to return to the status quo existing at 6 June 1967 after the conclusion of the Six Day War when not one Jew then lived in the West Bank.
- The overwhelming majority of Jordan’s residents were born in - or are descendants of - Arabs originating from that part of former Palestine west of the Jordan River that is today called Israel and the West Bank.
King Abdullah’s concerns are particularly frank and very revealing as indicated by his following comments during the above interview: “the status quo is not acceptable; what will happen is that we will continue to go around in circles until the conflict erupts, and there will be suffering by peoples because there will be a war.”
Jordan surely has a responsibility to prevent any such war or suffering occurring and accordingly embark on a diplomatic path to avoid these outcomes . Wringing your hands and just preaching doom and gloom is not very helpful. Being ultimately proved right in his assessment will offer no solace to those caught in any such war.
Jordan is uniquely placed to change the status quo and lessen the possibility of any war - and earn Abdullah the Nobel Peace Prize as well.
Jordan can reverse the war cries by offering to negotiate and divide the future sovereignty of the West Bank with Israel- thereby freeing the majority of the existing Arab population from continuing Israeli control whilst making them citizens of Jordan once again .
“Jerusalem specifically engages Jordan because we are the custodians of the Muslim and Christian holy places and this is a flashpoint that goes beyond Jordanian-Israeli relations.”
As such custodians Jordan has an obligation to negotiate with Israel on Jordan’s role in the future of those holy places - and can do so under the framework of the signed existing 1993 peace treaty concluded between Israel and Jordan which acknowledges Jordan’s role in this regard.
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