Palestine and Jordan reject ‘confederation trial balloon’

Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) meeting with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the Al-Husseiniya Palace in Amman. (AFP file photo)
Updated 04 September 2018

Palestine and Jordan reject ‘confederation trial balloon’

  • Discussion is premature, Fatah spokesman tells Arab News
  • Americans and Israelis really want a Jordanian federation without Gaza, says former Jordanian MP

AMMAN: Jordanian and Palestinian officials, experts and activists are united in their opposition to a confederation that precedes the end of Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state. 

Palestinian and Jordanian official speakers have rejected the idea circulating in the Israeli media following a discussion President Abbas had with Israeli peace activists. 

In the discussion, Abbas told the Israelis that Trump Administration mediators offered the idea of a confederation with Jordan but that Abbas rejected the idea unless it also includes the state of Israel.

Ziad Abu Zayyad, international spokesman for Fatah in Jerusalem, told Arab News that the confederation discussion is premature. 

“A Palestinian state must be established with security, borders and a capital before talking about any kind of confederation since it is needed to be able to achieve such a thing.”

Mahdi ABdulHadi, head of the PASIA think tank in Jerusalem, also called the US and Israeli discussion about Jordan “a new version of their obsession” and suggested that this “trial balloon should be left alone because it will soon run out of air.”

Najeeb Qadoumi, a senior Fatah leader in Jordan and a member of the Palestine National Council living in Jordan, told Arab News that this is an old topic and Abbas has tried to avoid dealing with. Qadoumi noted that a confereration is a union between “two independent states and must be approved after their independence by means of a referendum.” 

Qadoumi said that if the goal is to be a confederation “like the EU where countries like France and Germany are sovereign that there is no problem as long as all of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza are included.”

Hamadeh Faraneh, who has the distinction of having been a Jordanian member of Parliament and a member of the Palestine National Council legislative councils, told Arab News that the confederation issue was a political trick that president Abbas was able to cleverly circumvent. 

“Everyone knows that Jordanians reject confederation because it attempts to make Jordan become a replacement of the PLO and because it will be the beginning of a process that aims at kicking Palestinians from their home and country.” 

Faraneh told Arab News that “any unity at this time while occupation has not ended and Palestinians have not enjoyed true independence is totally unacceptable.”

Faraneh said that president Abbas is aware of this and that is why he escaped this issue by adding Israel. 

“Palestinians are the only common denominator that is present in all three regions in Israel, Palestine and Jordan,” he said.

Former Jordanian member of parliament Ghazi Musharbash told Arab News that the Americans and Israelis really want a Jordanian federation without Gaza. 

“This is why the late King Hussein and King Abdullah II are consistently on the record as opposing the idea and have repeatedly said that they are only willing to discuss the idea once Palestinians are genuinely independent.” 

Musharbash notes that while everyone talks about confederation to soften the blow, what the Americans and Israelis mean is a federation and this “is totally impossible.”


Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

Updated 29 min 50 sec ago

Germany wants trial for Syria militants but warns of difficulties

  • ‘We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible’
  • The minister noted that there is ‘no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship’

BERLIN: Germany vowed Monday to prosecute German Daesh fighters but warned that it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals from Syria, after US President Donald Trump called on allies to take back alleged militants.
Syria’s US-backed Kurdish forces, which are battling Daesh group militants in their last redoubt in eastern Syria, hold hundreds of suspected foreign Daesh fighters and the calls for their reluctant home countries to take them back have grown in urgency.
“We must be able to ensure that prosecution is possible,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Bild daily.
Underlining the difficulties however of putting the ex-fighters on trial, the minister noted that there is “no government in Syria with which we have a sensible relationship.”
President Bashar “Assad cannot be our counterpart, the Syrian-democratic forces are not a unity government,” she added, stressing that proof and witness statements needed to be secured in Syria if the militants are to be put on trial.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said separately that a return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained.”
For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” Maas told ARD television late Sunday. Under such conditions a repatriation would be “extremely difficult to achieve.”
Berlin wants to “consult with France and Britain ... over how to proceed,” he said.
The subject is to be raised on Monday at a meeting of European foreign ministers called to discuss among other issues “the situation in Syria, in particular the recent developments on the ground,” according to an agenda for the talks.
Trump on Sunday called on his European allies to take back alleged militants captured in Syria.
Daesh imposed a self-declared caliphate across parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq from 2014, but has since lost all of it except a tiny patch of less than half a square kilometer near the Iraqi border.
After years of fighting Daesh, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold hundreds of foreigners accused of fighting for the group, as well as their wives and children.
Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for their countries of origin to take them back, but these nations have been reluctant.
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Daesh fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a tweet.
After initial reluctance, Paris appears ready to consider the return of its nationals.
In Belgium, Justice Minister Koen Geens called for a “European solution” on Sunday, calling for “calm reflection and looking at what would be the least security risks.”