Wednesday, June 25, 2008
"Jordan is Palestine" Plan is Receiving Attention
Jordan is in an uproar over the revival of the "Jordanian option" - the thesis that Jordan is the true home to the "Palestinians." Reports that a top advisor to US Presidential candidate John McCain is promoting this idea have led to a flurry of press reports in the Arab media, as well as a denial from Jordan's King Abdullah himself.
Some officials in Israel and the United States, however, feel it's the only way to prevent the formation of a Palestinian state.
The King responded defensively to the option, declaring in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper last week, “This country was made to stay. Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine." "Palestinian Homeland" = Jordan
However, he also added another sentence that has given observers pause, wondering if he meant something else.
"The Palestinian nation has the right to a state and independent identity on the areas of Palestine," said King Abdullah II. "The Palestinians will not accept any substitute for their homeland Palestine."
Though Arabs today call Israel "Palestine," MK Benny Elon (National Union) told IsraelNationalNews that in this case, "the words 'Palestinian homeland' can mean Jordan as well... Certainly Abdullah himself remembers that the original Palestine includes Jordan - but perhaps he assumes that everyone else does not."
Elon was referring to the fact that the area of Palestine, as recognized by the League of Nations and the British rulers nearly 100 years ago, includes what is today Israel and Jordan. King Abdullah's remarks, therefore, can mean precisely the same idea that Elon has been promoting: The Arabs of Judea and Samaria should be "annexed" to Jordan.
Anxieties in Jordan
The idea has been making waves in Jordanian and other Arab media as well. The English-language The National, published in Abu Dhabi, reported this week that the news that a top advisor to John McCain had raised the idea - even though the advisor, Robert Kagan, later denied having done so - has "brought to the forefront hidden anxieties in a country that hosts the largest Palestinian refugee population." The paper reports that 1.9 million refugees and their descendants currently live in Jordan - nearly a third of the country's population. Some reports state that the refugees comprise half of Jordan's populace.
“There is a conspiracy to revisit this option ['Jordan is Palestine'],” The National quotes Mohammad Abu Hdeib, who heads the Jordanian parliament’s Arab and international affairs committee, as saying. “Such a scenario would be an end to the Jordanian state. It also contradicts international resolutions that call for an independent Palestinian state.”
Precisely, says MK Elon: "We have to find a way to stop the trend to form a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, because it is simply dangerous and ineffectual."
Elon: Stop the Danger-Fraught Two-State Solution!
For years, Elon has been promoting a peace plan called The Right Road to Peace, or the Israel Initiative, as an alternative to the accepted Roadmap two-state solution. "The establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (the West Bank) will only prolong the Arab-Israeli conflict and exact a heavy toll in human life," Elon explains.
His plan's website elaborates on this point, explaining that forming such a state will not solve the "real problems that perpetuate the conflict: The Palestinian demand for the right of return of refugees to areas within the State of Israel, the rehabilitation of the refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and the nature of the Palestinian state and its borders. Within a short time, these unresolved problems will resurface and draw the region into yet another war."
Elon told Arutz-7 that the plan to give the Arabs of Judea and Samaria citizenship in Jordan is the "only way to re-route diplomatic talk away from the dangerous Roadmap."
Elon said his plan enjoys the strong support of US Senator Sam Brownback (R., Kansas), "who has been actively promoting it. He spoke to [US Secretary of State] Condoleeza Rice about it, and when she said it has no chance of being accepted by the Arabs, he went to Jordan - and found that the situation was not as simple as she said."
Elon explained that Jordan is very wary of having on its western border a Hamas state, which a future Palestinian state is likely to become. "Jordan also has an increasingly extremist-Muslim Iraq to contend with on its eastern border - a very uncomfortable situation for King Abdullah," he continued. Elon noted that the Jordanian monarch dispatched his former Prime Minister Abdel Salam al-Majali to discuss the plan with the Israelis.
"If Jordan knows that the plan is serious, and has the support of the United States, and that it can work, it will support it," Elon said..