Jordan on edge ahead of unveiling of Trump’s peace plan

Jordan on edge ahead of unveiling of Trump’s peace plan

King Abdullah of Jordan. (AFP)

President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, tweeted last week that “rumors that our peace vision includes a confederation between Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, or that the vision contemplates making Jordan the homeland for Palestinians, are incorrect.” His response comes in the wake of repeated warnings by King Abdullah that he would never relent over the Hashemite custodianship of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, while rejecting plans to settle Palestinian refugees and turn Jordan into an alternative homeland.

The king’s unwavering stand on these issues reflects the crux of his long-standing position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: That the only path toward a just and lasting solution lies in a negotiated settlement based on the two-state formula, leading to the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But this is not only Jordan’s position; it is the position of all Arab countries, as underlined in the Arab League’s resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, the EU through its declarations, and the international community through UN resolutions going back many years. Until 2016, it was also the position of the US.

But now we have a White House team whose impartiality is in doubt. While revealing very little about its proposed regional plan, the US administration has taken a number of unilateral steps in recent years. These steps — which include the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, attempts to defund the UNRWA, the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, and the suspension of all USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — all point to one goal: The dismantling of the main components of the Palestinian issue.

These components, once referred to as final status issues, include Jerusalem, settlements, borders, refugees and statehood. King Abdullah’s firm stand against what the Trump administration is working on is not only warranted but needed, as he raises red flags and issues warnings of the repercussions on regional stability if the plan is allowed to pass. 

Greenblatt’s tweet does little to mollify Jordanians. He says that there are no plans to turn Jordan into an alternative homeland for the Palestinians — neither Jordanians nor Palestinians would allow that to happen anyway — but he ignores other issues, such as the settling of Palestinian refugees in host countries, the fate of Jerusalem and a possible future role for Jordan in administering what remains of the West Bank after the annexation of Jewish settlements and other areas. 

King Abdullah’s firm stand against what the Trump administration is working on is not only warranted but needed.

Osama Al-Sharif

Greenblatt, who has been tweeting about other issues as well, has little understanding of, or sympathy for, the Palestinians’ suffering and sacrifice under decades of illegal occupation. Neither does Jared Kushner, who heads the White House team, nor David Friedman, the US ambassador in Israel.

What is especially dangerous with Trump’s peace plan is that it seems set to ignore the traditional legal benchmarks required for a just and lasting peace, whether UN resolutions on the conflict or the Oslo Accords and later agreements. It attempts to legitimize what is and has always been an illegal occupation of Palestinian land. We have already seen this in the outrageous and unilateral recognition by Trump of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Such a precedent, whether in the West Bank or Golan Heights, throws all international conventions, resolutions and agreements out of the window. What Trump and his aides fail to recognize is that, even if they impose what would be a fait accompli on the Palestinians, the region as a whole will not accept such an anomaly. It will not only polarize the international community but, most importantly, it will unleash waves of violence in the Occupied Territories.

For Jordan, it doesn’t matter what Greenblatt says in his tweets. The Trump plan, which is synchronized with Israel’s far-right agenda, will have a domino effect that will end up hurting Israel, the Palestinians and all countries that have a stake in the fate of the peace process, like Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others.

King Abdullah, who has been increasingly vociferous in his opposition to any deviation from the path of the two-state formula, understands the dangerous repercussions of Trump’s plan on Jordan and the region as a whole. Furthermore, he refuses to tie the liquidation of the Palestinian cause to other regional challenges. And he knows that standing against Trump’s plan will come at a cost. This is why it is important for other Arab leaders to come forward as well.

Apart from the Palestinians, Jordan stands to lose the most if Trump’s plan goes through. This is why the king has been mobilizing Jordanians to express their support for his position and reject any solution that would deny Palestinians their legitimate right. Only a few weeks separate us from the unveiling of the “ultimate deal” and the region should get ready for a tense phase that will put pressure on every Arab leadership and may lead to a diplomatic face-off with Washington.

  • Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @plato010
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