Washington seeks Jordan to join Trump’s peace plan

Commentary Materials 5 September 2018 14:55 (UTC +04:00)
Washington continues to push forward its plan to put end to a 70-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the so-called deal of the century.
Washington seeks Jordan to join Trump’s peace plan

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 5

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Washington continues to push forward its plan to put end to a 70-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the so-called deal of the century.

Reaching a critical mass will take this, probably, the most difficult political conflict of the 20th century off the ground.

Support for the Trump’s plan should be provided, first of all, by the Arab countries, since the second side of the conflict is Palestinian Arabs.

With a certain degree of confidence, we can say that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt support the American plan, but despite the fact that this short list contains the richest Arab country (Saudi Arabia) and the strongest Arab country (Egypt), this is not enough to make the plan work.

First, it is supported only by the governments of these countries, but not by the population, which for decades accustomed to the fact that there is white and black – the long-suffering Palestinian people and the “Zionist regime” that prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Secondly, even in countries that support the plan, discontent and street protests can occur as a result of a skillfully planned external spark. This is unlikely, but not impossible.

Anyway, Trump's new peace plan will most likely be condemned and criticized everywhere. Trump needs to have a weighty ally in his camp, which has some specific status in the Arab and Muslim world. For Washington, such a country is Jordan.

Being in the midst of the Middle East storm, this country has managed to maintain its own stability; it has smooth relations with all neighboring countries, including Israel; the Royal dynasty of the Hashemite Kingdom dates back to the prophet Muhammad; personal authority and reputation of the King Abdullah-II is very high both in Jordan and internationally.

Crucial is the fact that royal family of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has a status of custodian of Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem including al-Aqsa mosque - the third holiest site in the Muslim world.

If Amman supported Trump's peace plan, the chances of pushing it forward would increase dramatically. However, stance of Jordan – two state solution leading to the creation of Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital – remains consistent.

Speaking with a group of Jordanian journalists in mid-August, King Abdullah II said: “We have never seen or read about something called the ‘deal of the century’.” He also stressed that his Kingdom had always supported a Palestinian state, stressing that this position would never change, Middle east monitor reported.

What can Washington do if some of the interested parties, even if friendly and patronized by the United States itself, does not agree to change its position and accept American conditions? The answer is clear – to use pressure.

The first alarming signal came in early June when Jordan suffered shocking mass protests sparked by tax hikes. However, they ended as suddenly as they began.

Three Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged $2.5B aid in order to stabilize the situation in the country. But Jordan, which is heavily dependent on donors’ aid, was subtly hinted that there is always a price to pay.

The second wake-up call came several days ago when it became clear that Washington has decided to end funding for UNRWA.

Washington's decision might severely impact Jordan because, as Jordan’s foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi has recently said, of the five million people registered as “Palestinian refugees”, more than two million live in his country - more than anywhere else in the world.

Meanwhile, US officials working on a Middle East peace plan have suggested to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas forming a confederation with Jordan, an Israeli TV channel reported, referring to representatives of the Israeli NGOs, with whom Abbas met in Ramallah.

Reportedly, Abbas said in response to the proposal: “I am ready to agree, but on condition that Israel will become part of the Confederation.”

Commenting on the words of Abbas, the well-known Israeli military and political expert Alex Wexler said: “It causes nothing but a smile. Israel is not going to throw away its GDP of almost $40,000 per capita. We did not create Israel to dissolve in the Arab world. As for the idea of establishing a Palestinian Confederation with Jordan, Israel would have been rather positive about it and might have even provided some assistance in that process.”

In its turn, the Jordanian government stressed that the issue of a confederation between Jordan and Palestine is not on the table.

“The idea of such a confederation between Jordan and Palestine cannot be discussed and is not an issue up for discussion,” Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Jordan’s position is constant and clear on the Palestinian issue, Ghunaimat said.

The stakes are high in the game. Nevertheless, Jordan has once again demonstrated its firm commitment over the issue. Now the ball is in Washington's court.