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The Middle East: Interesting times

By David Singer - posted Monday, 5 December 2011

Jordan's King Abdullah must now be very concerned at the prospect of the Hashemites possibly seeing an end to their 90 years uninterrupted rule in Jordan.

This can only be the rational explanation for the King's sudden helicopter flight to Ramallah to meet PLO and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas last week and his announcement that Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal will visit Jordan for discussions within the next two weeks. 

With negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority at a dead end, reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas at a standstill, Mubarak toppled in Egypt, Gaddafi shot dead in Libya and Assad facing removal in Syria, King Abdullah is keen to make sure that neither the PLO or Hamas have any designs for taking over Jordan.


Mashaal owes his life to the swift action of Abdullah's father, the late King Hussein, after a bungled attempt by Israel to assassinate Mashaal in 1996. Getting Israel to swiftly reveal the antidote for a deadly poison injected into Mashaal, in return for the release of the Israeli agents caught in the act, is certainly something for which Mashaal will be greatly indebted to the Hashemites. No doubt King Abdullah will be calling in the favour when they meet. Mashaal is more than likely to assure the King that he has enough on his plate in Gaza.

The Jordanian Islamists will foment a few demonstrations but Mashaal will make sure the King will not be dethroned and sent packing. Abbas is a different kettle of fish.

He heads an organisation that is dedicated to liberating and reuniting into one indivisible territorial unit what is today called Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan: a goal that has remained unchanged and unmodified since the promulgation of the PLO Charter in 1964.

Jordan's relation with the PLO has always been uneasy, ever since Yasser Arafat tried to takeover Jordan in 1970 resulting in thousands of dead and wounded on both sides. The PLO remains absolutely committed to its Charter. If the PLO sticks to its guns and refuses to negotiate with Israel then frustration might well see the PLO again turning its sights on Jordan.

Israel is also very concerned to ensure the continued stability of the Hashemite regime and has given King Abdullah the clearest signals of such intention.

Firstly Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, stated in the Jerusalem Post on 14 November that: “regional turbulence” is bringing Islamist parties to power “that all share an anti-Israel message.” “Instability in the Middle East is not good for anyone,” he said, emphasizing that it is “a major danger for Jordan.” “Those who say that Jordan is Palestine are mostly harming Israel,” Lieberman added. “That would create a continuous Palestinian state which would endanger us. It’s in our interest for this not to happen. “Stability in Jordan is in Israel’s interest." Our shared border is the longest and quietest. Both sides enjoy the benefits of peace and economic cooperation.” Lieberman's warning to Abbas to not meddle in Jordan's internal affairs was clear and uncompromising.


Although Jordan does comprise 78 per cent of former Palestine, any thought that an attempt would be made by the PLO to reunite it at any time or in any way under PLO rule with any part of the remaining 22 per cent would cross a red line that would be resisted by Israel.

Lieberman's statement of support was followed by a visit to King Abdullah by Israel's President Shimon Peres on 28 November.

A news release issued by Media and Communications Directorate of the Royal Hashemite Court declared: “The King emphasised that the end of the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict can only be achieved through resolving all final-status issues, foremost of which are refugees, borders and Jerusalem, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.”

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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

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