Action – not platitudes– required from Jordan’s King Abdullah

February 18, 2021 by David Singer
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Jordan’s King Abdullah continues to engage in platitudes – rather than concrete action – as he pontificates but does nothing to help resolve the 100 years-old Arab-Jewish conflict.

Jordan – called Transjordan between 1922 and 1949:

  • Comprises 78% of the territory of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine
  • Is the key to resolving the long-running conflict.

Abdullah recently repeated one of his favourite mantras – insisting that peace should be:

“based on the two-state solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace and security alongside Israel, in accordance with international law, recognized terms of reference, and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

This solution could have been implemented at any time between 1948 and 1967 after Transjordan had conquered and occupied East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (renamed the West Bank in 1950):

  • Driving out all the Jews living there and refusing to allow their return and
  • Unifying those territories with Transjordan into a single territorial entity – renamed “Jordan”.

That 19 years window of opportunity was squandered after Jordan lost those territories to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. That opportunity is not going to return – no matter how many times Abdullah continues to repeat it as the solution.

Abdullah also asserts:

“The Palestinian cause is central to Jordan, and we continue to stand alongside our Palestinian brethren with all our power and capabilities as they seek to gain their just and legitimate rights. We are constantly communicating and coordinating with them in this regard”

Talk is cheap – action is necessary.

Abdullah could with the stroke of a pen – preferably with Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) approval – restore Jordanian citizenship to his “Palestinian brethren” living in the West Bank – a status they enjoyed from 1950 until Jordan revoked their citizenship on 28 July 1988 under article 2 of the Jordan: Disengagement Regulations for the Year 1988:

“Every person residing in the West Bank before the date of 31/7/1988 will be considered as Palestinian citizen and not as Jordanian.”

Restoring Jordanian citizenship to West Bank Arabs opens the way to a far more realistic and attainable solution than creating another Arab State between Jordan and Israel: The territorial subdivision of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.

This solution would accord with the policy of the PLO enunciated in its founding 1964 Charter:

“Article 24. This Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.”

The present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem under Article 2 (3) of the 1994 Washington Declaration signed between Israel, Jordan and the United States would become permanent.

Distinguishing between Arabs living in the West Bank and Arabs living in Jordan is an artificial construct that has no basis in history, geography or demography. They are one and the same people – not two separate nations.

Abdullah should stop sermonizing, roll up his sleeves and continue the work of Arab-Jewish reconciliation which has now seen Peace Treaties or diplomatic engagements between Israel and:

  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Bahrein
  • Morocco
  • Sudan

Compromise between Israel and Jordan on the future sovereignty of the West Bank is the achievable way forward. The finishing line could be coming into sight if King Abdullah keep his eyes – and mind – open to this solution.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and a foundation member of the International Analysts Network

 Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators –  whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

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