Trump increases pressure on Jordan to negotiate with Israel

July 10, 2019 by David Singer
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President Trump seems set to increase the pressure on Jordan to negotiate with Israel on the future of the West Bank and Gazan Arabs.

This has become increasingly more likely following Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) rejecting US$6.238 billion in grants and US$12.911 in concessional loans proposed by President Trump to be expended as part of US$27.813 billion in Gaza and the West Bank.

Added to these grants and concessional loans totalling US$19.149 billion is a minimum additional US$1.275 billion per annum until Financial Year 2022 under the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on 14 February 2018 between the USA and Jordan.

The USA has also provided nearly $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance to support Syrian refugees in Jordan (in addition to funding provided at the regional level for other refugee populations in the Kingdom). This funding does not fall under the MOU and could also be withdrawn.

This large treasure chest is likely to be offered to Jordan’s King Abdullah if he is prepared to sit down and negotiate with Israel on Trump’s as yet unpublished “deal of the century” for ending the 100 years conflict between the Arabs and Jews in relation to the territory once called “Palestine”.

The West Bank and Gaza comprise the last 5% of the territory of “Palestine” where sovereignty remains unresolved – Israel being sovereign in 17% and Jordan being sovereign in 78%.

Expending US$27.813 billion on projects in the West Bank and Gaza – approximately the size of the State of Delaware – seemed an odd Trump approach – as confrontation and conflict with Israel is set to continue and the PLO and Hamas refuse to surrender their power and control over the hapless and suffering populations they have governed since 2007.

It makes far better sense to use the $19.149 billion in freed up funds to encourage the legal, voluntary and financially-assisted migration of West Bank and Gazan Arabs to Jordan and Egypt and the provision of infrastructure and upgrading of services in both countries. This would be additional to the US$7.365 billion and US$9.167 billion for projects in Jordan and Egypt respectively already designated in Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” Proposal.

Gazan and West Bank Arabs are no different from the millions of people currently emigrating from their countries of birth seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

The exodus of Gazan Arabs has already begun with 35000 reported to have left in 2018 seeking a better future for themselves and their families. In the West Bank the Net migration rate estimated in 2018 was -4.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population.

Encouraging voluntary migration using the moneys rejected by the PLO and Hamas could be expected to result in a surge of emigration from both the West Bank and Gaza. Emigration would ease the demand for food, services and housing in the West Bank and Gaza for those choosing to stay.

Jordan has a special connection with Arabs of West Bank origin who were Jordanian citizens and held Jordanian passports between 1954 and 1988.

Extending Jordanian citizenship and passports once again to the West Bank Arab population – whether they remain in the West Bank or not – could be another important outcome from direct negotiations with Israel.

Jordan will not welcome Trump’s attempt to get direct negotiations started between Israel and Jordan. However Hamas and the PLO’s total rejection of Trump and any peace proposals he puts forward – even before they are published – makes it imperative that those negotiations take place.

Billions of infrastructure dollars and the hopes of hundreds of thousands of potential West Bank and Gazan emigrants are riding on Jordan’s decision.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and 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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