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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

Reports Show 1 Million Gap Between Estimates on Number of ‘Palestinians’

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Affairs and Security in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday took a stab at figuring out just how many Arabs live in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, where in the latter two no one has taken a scientific census in ages, and the numbers appear to be skewed according to the political leanings of the different sources.

Lies, Damned Lies, and PA Census Data

The CIA World Factbook, updated July 2015, estimates there are 2,785,366 “Palestinians” living in those three areas, a.k.a. the “West Bank.” The Knesset subcommittee’s discussion suggested this figure is more than a little inflated.

Subcommittee Chairman MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) opened the debate saying “this is our second discussion of this issue, and we’d like to focus on data regarding Area C which is our responsibility. When I served as Ephraim Brigade Commander, over a period of one year, we executed an accurate count of all the residents in the sector, including Tulkarm and Qalqilya. The State of Israel possesses the needed means to find out, and the State of Israel must find out what is the number of residents for whom it is responsible, and about whom it would have to reach future decisions.”

Head of the Operations Directorate of the Civil Administration Lt. Col. Eyal Zeevi began his part by stressing that the civil administration does not engage in demographic studies, and that the responsibility for that in all of Judea and Samaria belongs to the Palestinian Authority, according to the 1995 interim agreement between Israel and the PA. In that context Zeevi explained that the PA demographic data does not offer specific Area C-related figures. However, Avi Gur-Ari, Population Administration officer in the Civil Administration clarified that he does maintain reliable testing of the data received from the PA.

This came as a surprise to the chairman, who requested that the entire PA census, including the data for Area C, be given to his subcommittee, noting that since the data includes the names of individual communities it should be feasible to discern those communities that are included in Area C.

Zeevi said it wasn’t as simple as that, because some of the Arab villages are split between Area C and neighboring, PA-governed Areas A and B. Other villages border the Jerusalem municipality. “With all due respect for the chairman, I don’t think it can be done in the suggested schedule. To do this professionally would require time and resources, which the political echelon has not yet decided to allocate.”

Once in the Roll, Always on the Roll

Zeevi shared some of the most common problems with the Palestinian Authority census: for one thing, a resident who leaves the PA remains listed as a resident; and these residents are able to visit, register their children and return abroad. Zeevi estimates that as many as 15,000 residents are added to the PA census this way annually.

“The immigration data presented today is partial and pertains only to the Allenby bridge border crossing into Jordan,” Zeevi added, estimating that “over the past 15 years more than 175 thousand have left through the crossing and never returned.”

According to Zeevi, the registered Arab population who carry Palestinian ID cards in Judea and Samaria, not including eastern Jerusalem, is 2.63 million. He believes that with the current growth rate coefficient in 2020 there will be 3.28 million and by 2030 there will be more than 4 million Arabs in all of Judea and Samaria.

According to Avi Lekach from the Population and Immigration Authority, in eastern Jerusalem there are at least 300 thousand Arab residents. David Koren, a consultant to the Jerusalem Mayor, noted that while there are 316 thousand registered Arab residents in Jerusalem, there may be as many as 60 thousand Arabs from the PA who are seeking residency in Jerusalem as part of family reunions.

Italian-born Israeli demographer and statistician Prof. Sergio Della Pergola told the subcommittee that he believes there are some 2.4 Arab residents in Judea and Samaria today, and that the Jewish majority in all of Eretz Israel is only about 52% — which includes people who identify as Jewish but halakhically are not. In his opinion, the halakhically Jewish majority is long gone.

But former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger cited his own research which found that the birthrate balance has switched and that today’s Jewish birthrate is higher than the Arab. Ettinger also said that his research showed that by the end of 2015 there were only 1.75 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

Analyzing PA Eligible Voter Data Implies Even Lower Numbers

Back in 2013, Middle East analyst Dr. Guy Bechor cited the number of eligible PA voters in the 2012 local elections — 515 thousand — setting it as the number of adults 18 and older. If we add to it an identical number of people ages 0-18, we’ll get a little more than one million. Add the maximum figure of eastern Jerusalem Arabs and you’ll get a generous estimate of only 1.4 million Arabs. The number of Jews, incidentally, is comprised of 385 thousand in Judea and Samaria and 300 thousand in eastern Jerusalem, or close to 700 thousand in total.

MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp-Labor) said it was shameful that Israel does not know how many Arabs actually live in Area C. “We know how many Syrian tanks there are, but not how many civilians are living under our care,” he said, suggesting that whether Area C becomes part of Israel or is handed over to the PA, “we should know how many potential Arab citizens we’ll have in the state.”

JNi.Media

Palestinians and Jordan: Will a Confederation Work?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

Talk about a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan has once again resurfaced, this time after a series of unofficial meetings in Amman and the West Bank in the past few weeks. Jordan, fearing that such confederation would end up with the Hashemite kingdom transformed into a Palestinian state, is not currently keen on the idea.

Many Palestinians have also expressed reservations about the idea. They argue that a confederation could harm their effort to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The confederation talk returned during a recent high-profile visit to the West Bank by former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdel Salam Majali. During a meeting with representatives of large Palestinian clans in Nablus, Majali voiced his support for the confederation idea, saying it was the “best solution for both Palestinians and Jordanians.”

The former Jordanian prime minister told some 100 Palestinians who gathered to greet him in Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank: “Jordan cannot live without Palestine and Palestine cannot live without Jordan.” Stressing that such a confederation should be created after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Majali said that the confederation would mean that Palestinians and Jordanians would have a joint government and parliament.

In a rare moment of truth, Majali admitted that the Palestinians were not “fully qualified to assume their responsibilities, especially in the financial field, in wake of the failure of the Arab countries to support them.” So Majali is basically telling the Palestinians: “You can’t rely on your Arab brothers to help you build a state. Jordan is the only Arab country that cares about you.”

Some Jordanians said this week that Majali was speaking only on his behalf and that his views did not represent those of Jordan’s King Abdullah or the government. They pointed out that the last time Majali met with the monarch was four months ago, when King Abdullah visited him in the hospital where Majali was being treated.

Still, it is hard to believe that such a senior figure as Majali would have advocated the confederation plan without having first received some kind of green light from the royal palace in Amman.

Let us remember that Jordan has a history on this issue. In 1988, the late King Hussein “divorced” the West Bank, announcing that the kingdom was cutting its administrative and legal ties to the territory that had been under its control until 1967. Of course, the king had good reason to renounce any claim to the West Bank: the First Intifada had just begun and the Palestinians in the West Bank were considered “troublemakers” that he did not need in his Palestinian-majority kingdom.

Thus we see why many Jordanians remain opposed to the confederation idea. A study published in 2014 shows that the Jordanian public was against the idea.

According to the study, the Jordanian public is totally opposed to the idea, even after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. The Jordanians fear, among other things, that the confederation would lead to the “dilution” of the Jordanian identity, create instability and undermine security in the kingdom.

Jordanian columnist and political analyst Fahd Khitan echoed this fear by declaring that the confederation idea “means suicide for the Hashemite kingdom.” Noting that many Palestinians were also opposed to the idea, even after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Khitan said that mutual confidence between the Palestinians and Jordanians has deteriorated, particularly in wake of the recent controversy over the installment of security cameras at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Under a U.S.-brokered plan, the Jordanian government was supposed to install the cameras at the holy site as a way of easing tensions between Palestinians and Israel. The controversy had erupted over Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. However, the Jordanians were forced a few weeks ago to abandon the plan after Palestinian opposition and threats. The Palestinians claimed that Israel would use the cameras to arrest Palestinians who are stationed at the Temple Mount with the mission of harassing Jewish visitors.

“The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not just residents who can be incorporated into this or that country,” Khitan explained in his rejection of the confederation idea. “The Palestinians are a people who have their own land and Jordan is a country that is now celebrating its 70th anniversary.” So this Jordanian analyst is telling the Palestinians: “We love you and you are wonderful people, but we prefer that you stay away from us.”

While most Jordanians seem to be strongly opposed to the idea of adding another three or four million Palestinians to the kingdom’s population, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appear to be divided over the idea.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, which by all accounts has failed to lead its people towards statehood because of its incompetence and corruption, has yet to spell out its position regarding the proposed confederation with Jordan.

There are, however, signs that a growing number of Palestinians are beginning to entertain the idea of being part of Jordan. A recent public opinion poll published by An-Najah University in Nablus found that 42% of Palestinians favor the confederation idea. The poll also found that 59% of Palestinians do not believe that a Palestinian state would be established within the pre-1967 lines.

This means that a majority of Palestinians have lost confidence in their leaders’ ability to achieve an independent Palestinian state. One of the main reasons is the ongoing power struggle between the PA and Hamas. It is a conflict that has divided the Palestinians into two separate cultural as well as geographic entities, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The reality on the ground is that the two-state solution has already been fulfilled: in the end, the Palestinians got two mini-states of their own — one governed by the Palestinian Authority and the second by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Another sign of growing Palestinian support for the idea can be found in the Hebron area, where leaders of large clans have also begun campaigning for the implementation of a confederation with Jordan. It is estimated that nearly one million Hebronites live in Jordan and the West Bank, and this statistic is also driving support for the idea.

In recent weeks, several Hebron clan leaders visited Jordan as part of an effort to muster popular support for the confederation idea. A prominent member of the Jordanian parliament, Dr. Mohammed al-Dawaymeh, lately visited Hebron, where he met with the heads of the city’s large clans to promote the idea. Again, it is unlikely that the member of parliament was acting without the backing of King Abdullah or the Jordanian government. But his visit to the West Bank, like that of Majali before him, has sparked a new wave of speculation among Palestinians that something is being “cooked up” to enable the confederation plan to take place.

What is notable is that the confederation idea seems to be gaining support among Palestinian clans in a society that is largely a tribal one. Both Hebron and Nablus consist of large clans, and it makes sense that the two senior Jordanian figures chose to concentrate their efforts there. If you manage to convince the clans to support the idea, that approval, they believe, would create pressure on the Palestinian leaders to follow suit.

Also intriguing is that some prominent Palestinians seem to have endorsed the confederation idea — again due to their having lost confidence in their leaders’ ability to move forward and bring them a better life.

Two of these Palestinians are Ghassan Shaka’ah, a former mayor of Nablus and a prominent PLO leader in the West Bank, and Professor Sari Nusseibeh, a respected pragmatic academic and former president of Al-Quds University.

The renewed talk about a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan underscores the Palestinian leadership’s failure to convince many Palestinians of its ability to lead them towards statehood. It is also a sign of the revival of the role of Palestinians clans in the Palestinian political arena. For the past two decades, the power of the clans has been undermined, thanks to the presence of central governments — the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But the weakness of these two governments has prompted clan leaders to take matters into their hands and renew talk about a confederation with Jordan.

A confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan may seem to be a good idea in the long term. But for now, it is hard to see how Jordanian leader would agree to turn millions of Palestinians into citizens of the kingdom. It is also hard to see Jordanians agreeing to absorb either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority and share power with them. Still, the talk about a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan shows that under the current circumstances, the two-state solution (a Palestinian state alongside Israel) is no longer being viewed by Palestinians as a realistic solution that will bring their people a better life.

Jordan is not the only Arab country that does not consider the Palestinians trustworthy partners. The Jordanians still have painful memories from the early 1970s, when the PLO and other Palestinian groups tried to establish a state within a state inside the kingdom, and thus threatened Jordan’s security and stability. Today, there is only one solution: maintain the status quo until Palestinian leaders wake up and start working to improve the living conditions of their people and prepare them for peace with Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Jordan Arrests Terror Suspect in ‘Individual and Isolated’ Attack on Intelligence HQ

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

A suspected terrorist has been arrested by Jordanian authorities following Monday’s attack on the nation’s secret police headquarters in northern suburb of Amman.

Three intelligence officers, a secretary and a guard were murdered early Monday morning at the site, located in Baqa’a, home to 100,000 people. Baqa’a is located 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of Amman.

According to Jordanian government spokesperson Mohammad al-Momani, initial investigation reports indicate the murders were an “individual and isolated act.” Momani offered no further details.

The population of Baqa’a, often referred to as a “refugee camp” is comprised mostly of Arabs who fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence and their generations of descendants, all of whom have to this day insisted on continuing to register with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as “refugees” – nearly 70 years later.

Hana Levi Julian

5 Dead in Terror Attack on Jordanian Intelligence Headquarters

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Five members of the General Intelligence Department (GID) were killed early Monday in an attack at the headquarters of the secret police in Baqa’a, a northern suburb of Amman.

The attack on the security office, about 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of Amman, took place on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, said government spokesman Mohammad Momani, Minister of State for Media Affairs. The killers escaped and remain unidentified.

“The cowardly attack on the security office in the first day of Ramadan shows the criminal behavior of the terrorists,” Momani said in a statement.

The attack occurred shortly before 7 am local time. Three of the five victims were intelligence officers; the others were a guard and a receptionist at the office, according to The Guardian newspaper.

More than 100,000 people live in Baqa’a, including many who fled the 1948 war against the newly reborn State of Israel by its Arab neighbors, and the generations of descendants.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier this year, a number of Da’esh (ISIS) supporters were killed in a security operation carried out by Jordanian government troops in the northern city of Irbid.

Hana Levi Julian

What is Happening in Jordan?

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Days ago, King Abdullah II‎ of Jordan dissolved the parliament and appointed a new prime minister.

This came ‎weeks after the king amended the constitution to expand his already swollen authority as the sole ‎ruler, and has launched a wave of speculation in the Western and Israeli media. The media are puzzled and rather clueless about what exactly is happening in my country, Jordan. Some, including respected publications, jumped to the convenient conclusion ‎that the king has “appointed a pro-Israel prime minister” and even that “Israel has a new friend ‎in the Middle East, Jordan’s prime minister.” These statements by ‎themselves are irrelevant to the status quo and the situation in Jordan is much more critical and ‎dire than anyone in the Israeli media realizes.‎

In November 2015, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said ‎Jordan’s future was “not clear” and that Palestinians and Israelis needed to know what will ‎happen in Jordan and “whether Jordan will remain stable” before they resume the peace process. Clinton’s tenure as U.S. secretary of state saw anti-regime protests in Jordan, particularly the November 2012 revolution, ‎when a million Jordanians took to the streets demanding that the Hashemite royals leave the ‎country. She knows more about the reality in Jordan from firsthand experience than any other U.S. presidential candidate.

While Clinton’s statements cannot be taken as prophecies from the Torah or the Quran, the facts on the ‎ground do support her concerns for Jordan. As these lines are being written, unrest continues in the ‎Wadi Mousa-Petra area, including gun battles between the king’s police and the locals, arrests, the ‎destruction of vehicles and other property, stone throwing, and rumors of casualties on both sides. In ‎short, there is an intifada at one of Jordan’s most significant tourist sites.

In addition, anti-regime ‎protests take place every Friday, yards away from the king’s palace. Those protests are not ‎continuous, but they are a regular occurrence and likely to grow. Protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began in the same ‎way in 2004, and 10,000 protests later, a one-strike revolution toppled him in ‎‎2011, the same year that the current protests in Jordan began.‎

Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is above 90%. Greece’s economy collapsed when it hit ‎the same rate, and the Jordanian regime is not getting the help from Arab states that Greece got from the European Union. Nevertheless, the Jordanian royal family spends beyond belief and is not shy about showing off its opulent lifestyle to its starving subjects.‎

Less than a month ago, Jordan’s king visited the Saudis and came back speaking ‎about billions of Saudi riyals “on the way.” None of this has yet materialized. While these ‎things do take time, Saudi King Salman‎ announced a $25 billion aid package to the el-Sissi regime half an hour ‎after the king’s arrival in Egypt in April. ‎

There are also no signs or news of aid money coming from the ‎Gulf states. Our Arab brothers are wise; they won’t give their money to an ailing regime.‎

On the other hand, the king has been fragile for years now, and many — myself included — have ‎predicted his fall, yet he remains on the throne in Amman. So why should anyone worry that ‎the king might fall now?

In fact, the situation has completely changed.‎

Today, Jordan’s army is independent of the king, and so is Jordan’s intelligence service. Both are tightly coordinated with the U.S. Central Command. When the Islamic State group became a real threat to Jordan, ‎the U.S. must have realized it could no longer tolerate the king’s recklessness, inexperienced ‎handling of security, and mismanagement of Jordan’s military operations and funds. Thus, the ‎U.S. supported separating the army and intelligence apparatus from the king’s influence. This happened trough tight and direct cooperation between the Jordanian and U.S. militaries, and between Jordanian and U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.‎

This new arrangement might explain the record-smooth cooperation between Jordan and Israel on ‎security, which is described in the Israeli media as “unprecedented.” Yes, it is unprecedented, ‎because the king no longer has any influence over the army or intelligence service.‎

Further, the U.S. has announced it is about to finish building a massive security wall separating ‎Jordan from Syria and extending along the Iraqi borders. This little-publicized wall will be fully ‎operational in August, according to its contractor, Raytheon, at a cost of over $500 million. At the same time, Israel is quickly and publicly building a $1 billion wall ‎along its border with Jordan.‎

These measures, taken by the U.S. and Jordanian armies, suggest that both are expecting major change in ‎Jordan. The outcome should be safe; Islamic State cannot take over Jordan with thousands of American soldiers stationed ‎in several major U.S. bases across Jordan. ‎

Meanwhile, Jordan’s king sees firsthand signs that his angry, hungry, and hopeless ‎people could actually topple him, and with him having no control over the army now, the king ‎could face a situation like that of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, which was supported by the ‎Egyptian army.‎

Afraid and helpless, Jordan’s regime has turned to the oldest trick in the book: beating the Israeli ‎drum. The regime knows that if a new intifada breaks out in Israel, this ‎could buy it more time in power; the world would be too busy to let it go and Jordan’s ‎public would be distracted by anti-Israel hatred once again. This might explain why an official Israeli ‎statement on Sept. 21, 2015, confirmed that “Jordan was a major contributor to Temple ‎Mount tension” and accused Jordan’s government of exacerbating tensions in Jerusalem with ‎inciting statements and actions.‎

In November 2014, I published an article in which I warned that Jordan’s regime was ‎planning to set the West Bank and Jerusalem on fire in order to stay in power. Also, a month ‎before the “knife intifada” broke ut, I noted several times on social media that Jordan’s ‎regime was going to launch unrest in Jerusalem itself.‎

Change is coming to Jordan. It could be tomorrow morning or in five years, but the ‎Hashemites already have a one-way ticket out, and it seems they are now purposely ‎causing damage to Jordanian, alestinian, American and Israeli interests. ‎

It is about time the few pro-Hashemite hopeless romantics wake up and smell the strong ‎Jordanian coffee already brewing in Amman.‎

As far as the Israeli government is concerned, it has been clear from the beginning: The Israelis ‎will not be involved in the Arab Spring or its aftermath, and will keep good ties with Jordan’s ‎regime, military and intelligence agencies, without any involvement in Jordan’s internal politics. As ‎Jordan’s opposition, we highly appreciate Israel’s stance and fully understand it.‎

As we expect change in Jordan, we must work hard to make sure Jordan remains committed ‎to peace while it becomes economically prosperous and gives hope to all its citizens.‎

Mudar Zahran

Driver of Norwegian Diplomatic Vehicle Found Smuggling Antiquities to Jordan

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Inspectors at the Allenby Crossing uncovered 10 kilograms of ancient figurines and coins during a routine inspection last week.

The treasure trove was discovered on May 31 during a search of a Mercedes car that was driven on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, which owned the vehicle.

The artifacts were apparently hidden behind the side panels of the car, wrapped in cartons.

The driver, Issa Nagam of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, is suspected of smuggling the antiquities. He was arrested and released under restrictive conditions by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Justice Karen Miller.

The Customs Investigation Unit and the Jerusalem Tax Authority is involved with the investigation of this case.

Hana Levi Julian

Landmines Exploded Near Karnei Shomron

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

On Friday, high temperatures caused landmines planted around the eastern edge of the town of Karnei Shomron to explode.

The explosion set off wildfires that traveled up a nearby mountain and destroyed 4 homes in the Ramat Gilad neighborhood. The entire neighborhood was evacuated while firefighters tried to stop the blaze.

Apparently, the Jordanians had planted land mines in the area some 50 or 60 years ago when they illegally occupied the region. Until the landmines exploded on Friday, no one knew they were there.

H/T The Muqata

Jewish Press News Briefs

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