An Israeli outline for peace which was discussed with President Trump’s envoys and presented recently to King Abdullah, suggests that the PA, without Jerusalem, come under Jordanian rule, and Jordan’s army would protect the border between Israel and a confederation comprised of Jordan and the PA, pundit Zvi Bar’el reported in Ha’aretz on Monday.
According to Bar’el, “a confederation agreement will be signed between the leadership in the West Bank and Jordan without clarifying whether a joint parliament and a joint constitution will be established, and without determining whether the Palestinian component will be granted the status of a state. Israel may be willing to recognize the Palestinian state but only as part of the Confederation and without Gaza – which will be transferred to Egyptian security cover. The settlements will remain in place and under direct Israeli security and civil control.”
Hagit Ofran, who works for the Peace Now Settlement Watch, on Sunday stirred up a regional crisis when she told the Israeli press that, during a pilgrimage to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, his excellency—whose aides are telling the media he can’t remember the names of his staff members—recounted a conversation he had with White House envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who inquired if he’d be interested in forming a confederation with Jordan.
Ofran reported that Abbas said he had told his American visitors that he would only be interested if Israel were to join such a confederation.
AFP, which took the story from the Israeli media, said it wasn’t clear when the confederation conversation took place, seeing as Abbas has been refusing to see American representatives since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, 2017.
Nevertheless, the mere mention of the confederation solution must be causing a panic in Amman, which is afraid that the confederation is only a cover for the establishment of an alternative Palestinian homeland east of the Jordan river.
“The confederate structure may, in Jordan’s opinion, lead to the creation of a Palestinian majority between the 1967 lines and Jordan’s eastern border—which already exists in Jordan itself—and they may claim their national rights in the common area,” Bar’el noted.
Jordan’s population is roughly 9.5 million. About 3 million of them are indigenous Bedouin, who are loyal to the Hashemite crown. Another 3 million are non-citizens, which includes refugees from Syria and Iraq, as well as illegal migrant workers. The rest define themselves as “Palestinians,” and are already the most volatile element in Jordan’s society. Add those 3.5 million to the 2 million or so “Palestinians” in the PA and you’ve gotten yourself a revolution.
The world saw a preview of such a revolution back during Black September, when Yasser Arafat’s PLO challenged the Jordanian Armed Forces under King Hussein for control of the country, between September 16 and 27, 1970. Arafat claimed that the Jordanian army killed 25,000 “Palestinians,” other estimates suggested not more than 3,400. 537 Jordanian soldiers died.
Back to the problems with the confederation: Bar’el writes that “it is also unclear what the status of the Jordan Valley will be, since in every proposal discussed so far, Israel has insisted that it remain under Israeli control.”
According to Bar’el, the practical application from Jordan’s point of view is that it would become the guardian of Israel’s borders and be responsible for preventing terrorist activity inside Judea and Samaria, while the impetus for the conflict – namely the Jewish settlements, the status of Jerusalem and the PA’s actual borders – would continue to fuel Arab terrorism.
It’s no wonder the Jordanian response so far has been the Hebrew expression: “moichel toyves” (thanks but no thanks).
Bar’el suggests the Israeli outline was nothing more than an insult to the PA and to Hamas, reverting both their territories back to the status of a canton – one belonging to Jordan, the other to Egypt – with the settlements remaining as the spoils of the 1967 war. It would have been very useful in, say, 1984, just before the first Intifada. Today it can’t be more than a bubble.