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Jordan: Abbas offers Abdullah the Kiss of Death

By David Singer - posted Wednesday, 13 July 2011


His Majesty told the Washington Post on 16 June: “2011 will be, I think, a very bad year for peace. Although we will continue to try to bring both sides to the table, I am the most pessimistic I have been in 11 years."

While the Palestinian Authority refuses to resume negotiations with Israel - any hope of peacefully resolving sovereignty in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza will deteriorate and the King‘s pessimism will become self-fulfilling.

The absence of any such negotiations impacts on Jordan (known as Transjordan until 1950) because of its following historic, geographic and demographic ties with the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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Jordan comprises 78 per cent of former Palestine, while Israel comprises 17 per cent. The remaining 5 per cent comprises the West Bank and Gaza. Its population is overwhelmingly comprised of Arabs (or their descendants) who fled the invasion of Palestine by six Arab armies (including Jordan) in 1948.

Jordan was the last Arab occupier of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 1948-1967, driving out all the Jews who had lived there prior to 1948.

In 1950 a joint parliament comprised equally of members from the West Bank and Transjordan voted to unify the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Transjordan into one state which was renamed Jordan - and it remained so unified until the loss of the West Bank to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Only Great Britain and Pakistan recognised such union but it flourished unchallenged for 17 years.

West Bank Arab residents became Jordanian citizens and enjoyed that status from 1950 until 1988 - when Jordan finally relinquished all claims to the West Bank - but not its custodianship of the holy sites in East Jerusalem. Jordan has kept its territorial claims alive to the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a result of clause 2 [A] of Annex 1(a) of the Peace Treaty it signed with Israel in 1994.

Sovereignty in all, or part, of the West Bank and East Jerusalem could be claimed by Jordan at any time under this clause - with Israel‘s concurrence - notwithstanding Jordan’s earlier repudiation in 1988. Any renewed claim would not result in a breach of the terms of Jordan’s Peace Treaty with Israel.

King Abdullah’s pessimism has no doubt been also heightened as Jordan has  become increasingly caught up in the turbulence spreading throughout Arab countries in the region.

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Thousands of Jordanians demonstrated on 1 July in the cities of Irbid, Maan, Karak and Tafileh, in addition to the capital, Amman, demanding transparency and an end to corruption. The number of participants has been increasing in recent weeks, organisers and witnesses have reportedly said, and the slogans have taken on a notable harshness.

Unrest of any kind cannot be accepted by King Abdullah. It could well grow into a call for the removal of the Hashemite ruling dynasty in Jordan and its replacement by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) - as was last attempted by Yasser Arafat in 1970 when thousands of deaths and injuries occurred and the PLO was expelled to Lebanon.

The PLO claim to Jordan still remains clearly expressed in unequivocal terms in the PLO Charter which states in Clause 2: “Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate is an indivisible territorial unit.”

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.

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