Palestinians and Jordan need ‘unified front’ for Biden presidency, say experts

Palestinians and Jordan need ‘unified front’ for Biden presidency, say experts
A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on November 29, 2020 shows Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) receiving Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) as they meet to discuss developments related to the Palestinian cause, in the capital Amman. (AFP)
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Updated 30 November 2020

Palestinians and Jordan need ‘unified front’ for Biden presidency, say experts

Palestinians and Jordan need ‘unified front’ for Biden presidency, say experts
  • Relations between the US and the Palestinians deteriorated after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut funding to a UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets Jordan’s King Abdullah in Aqaba, with the two leaders planning to travel together for a summit with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday met Jordan’s King Abdullah in Aqaba, with the two leaders planning to travel together for a summit with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The region is preparing for the end of US President Donald Trump’s administration and the arrival of President-elect Joe Biden and his team.

Asma Khader, former Jordanian minister and government spokesperson, said a unified position needed to be agreed on in order to face up to Israel.

“It is important to show that there is a strong Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian coalition interested in a peaceful resolution and that they are the key to the stability and tranquility of the region,” she told Arab News. “What better day to show that unity than on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Relations between the US and the Palestinians deteriorated after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut funding to a UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, and threatened to withhold aid to the Palestinians unless they resumed negotiations with Israel.

He also unveiled a Middle East peace plan that sided with Israel on key contentious issues including borders, the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.

In September the White House hosted the UAE and Bahrain for the signing of landmark normalization accords with Israel. Trump brokered the agreements, called the Abraham Accords, and hailed the moment as the “dawn of a new Middle East.”

Nabil Shaath, who is a senior political advisor to Abbas, said that the last days of the Trump era had seen “a frenzy of effort to force Arab and Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel, a dangerous increase of Israeli settlements and a financial blockade” on Palestine.

It is important to show that there is a strong Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian coalition interested in a peaceful resolution and that they are the key to the stability and tranquility of the region.

Asma Khader, Ex-Jordanian minister

“Our closest neighbors – Jordan and Egypt - must be involved in protecting the peace process from further deterioration,” he told Arab News.

Asaad Abdel Rahman, a former member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, agreed on the need for a united Arab front.

“After the earthquake that we have witnessed in the past four years, we need a strategy that can work with the new US administration to move the process toward serious negotiations on the basis of what Jordan and Palestine have always publicly agreed to,” he told Arab News.

One key issue of agreement to be focused on was the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding between Jordan and the PLO regarding the Hashemite custodianship of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, he said. In the post-coronavirus period there was also a need for a joint economic plan to deal with the devastation, he added.

Ali Jirbawi, a political science professor at Bir Zeit University, said that the Palestinian leadership and Jordan must work hard on cementing the situation in light of regional and international changes.

“There is a need to support the two-state solution which requires the creation of an independent Palestinian state,” he told Arab News. “The Palestinian leadership must be supported, the so-called Jordan option (that Jordan is Palestine) needs to be regularly rejected and the Hashemite role in protecting the holy places in Jerusalem must be publicly stated.”

Former Jordanian lawmaker Hind Al-Fayez said that all sides must be encouraged to carry out internal reforms.

“This includes Palestinian national unity as well as Jordanian serious structural political reform,” she told Arab News. “One area of priority for both parties is the need to preserve the Hashemite custodianship over the holy places in Jerusalem.”

Audeh Quawas, a newly appointed member of the Jordanian senate, said that Jordan and Palestine should work hand-in-hand.

“There is a clear need for a serious strategy that focuses on the creation of the Palestinian state based on international law,” she told Arab News.


Rouhani to sue Iran state broadcaster over opium use comments

Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Hassan Rouhani (pictured) could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking opium. (Reuters/File Photo)
Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Hassan Rouhani (pictured) could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking opium. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 39 min 50 sec ago

Rouhani to sue Iran state broadcaster over opium use comments

Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Hassan Rouhani (pictured) could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking opium. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • President accused of taking drugs by hardline cleric during live broadcast
  • Latest example of pressure being applied on moderates ahead of June presidential elections

LONDON: Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, is to sue his country’s state broadcaster after he was accused of opium use on national television.

On Friday, the president’s office of legal affairs said Rouhani would pursue damages for defamation after Ahmed Jahan Bozorgi, a cleric and member of an Islamic think tank, said Rouhani could often not be reached by members of the Iranian Cabinet because he was at home smoking the drug. 

Alireza Moezi, on behalf of Rouhani’s office, said: “What was broadcast last night was sadly just shameless insult, slander and foul language against the president.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation, which is controlled by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Bozorgi’s institute, which frequently advises the Iranian government, both subsequently distanced themselves from the comments. 

The incident, though, is seen by many as an attempt to undermine Rouhani, a relative moderate in Iranian politics, and his allies by conservative hardliners ahead of the country’s presidential elections later this year.

Rouhani, who will stand down having served two terms, has presided over a period of increasing tensions with the US during the sole term of President Donald Trump, a period in which the hardliners have made significant political gains, whilst failing to oust the president himself.

On Wednesday, Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Communications Minister Mohammad Azari Jahromi were summoned to Parliament to face questions over their relationship with recently-installed US President Joe Biden.

Rouhani said he hoped that US sanctions on Iran would soon be lifted, amid hopes that a change of president in the US could see a return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “Iran Nuclear Deal,” that was sidelined by the US under Trump.

Such a sequence of events, it is thought, would give Rouhani and his allies a significant political win in the build up to the June elections. The move is opposed by the hardliners, though, who favor a stronger stance on the US.

“We do not need the nuclear deal anymore. Our strength comes from the fact that we have kept our existence without it,” said Hossein Salami, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

One radical member of parliament, meanwhile, said Iran should look to “impeach” Rouhani, following the example of Democrat senators in the US towards Trump, amid claims the trio were “friends” of the new administration in Washington.