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The origins and history of Jordan

By David Singer - posted Tuesday, 2 June 2009

King Abdullah of Jordan has obviously got a bad attack of the jitters as Israeli politicians now focus their attention on Jordan returning to re-occupy the heavily Arab populated areas of the West Bank - as Jordan had done so successfully before, between 1948-1967.

The hysteria emanating from Jordan at such a suggestion indicates that Israel’s politicians have touched a raw nerve that Jordan has long tried to gloss over - the fact that Jordan comprises 77 per cent of former Palestine and has a pivotal role to play in the West Bank if there is ever to be any hope of peace between Arabs and Jews.

Sixteen years of negotiations since 1993 aimed at creating a new Arab state between Israel and Jordan in the West Bank have proved a total failure. Yet the delusion that such a state could ever be created continues to be perpetuated by King Abdullah in a very carefully scripted and media managed performance that has apparently seduced President Barack Obama into believing he will be able to succeed where others before him have ignominiously failed.


President Obama will be in for a rude shock and end up in the same state of disbelief and disillusionment that befell his predecessors Presidents Carter, Clinton and Bush.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister was concerned enough at the debate in the Knesset last week to summons Israel’s Ambassador and issue him with a strong protest “on a motion on a so-called two states for two peoples on the two banks of the Jordan River”.

His concern might be well justified if he were reacting to the following statement made by Lebanese writer Farid Salman on OTV on May 6, 2009 as reported by Middle East Media Research Institute:

Jordan is an invention. Transjordan, which was an emirate, and later became the Hashemite Kingdom, is part of Palestine. Britain created it in order to crown one of the sons of Hussein, from the Arabian Peninsula, over part of Greater Syria - over Palestine. This continues to be the perpetual reason ... Without removing it, the Palestinian issue will not be resolved. It's impossible.

Farid Salman’s statement contains within it the call for the overthrow and removal of King Abdullah and an end to Hashemite rule.

President Jimmy Carter was moved to point out as long ago as October 11, 1982 in Time that Jordan as a nation was “a contrivance arbitrarily devised by a few strokes of the pen”.


Again one could argue that Carter would not have been sorry to see Jordan’s Hashemite rulers disappear and the country be renamed Palestine.

However the furore in Jordan over last week’s debate in the Knesset is an over reaction by a nervous Hashemite regime that sees the sword of Damocles hanging over the Hashemites every time someone mentions the origins and history of Jordan.

Jordan’s response has been topped by a remarkable outburst by Israel’s President Shimon Peres who has called the idea of two states for two peoples a “baseless hallucination” (Haartez, May 27, 2009)

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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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