Jordanian Policies on the Palestinian Problem
By Yotam Feldner and Yigal Carmon
While both Jordan and the PA support the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (hereinafter The Territories), they do not share the same views regarding the future of the relations between Jordan and the Palestinian entity. The PLO, which expressed its support of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation several times, had to withdraw it due to the adamant objection of King Hussein. The death of the Jordanian monarch and the stalemated peace process presented the Palestinian leadership with an opportunity to reintroduce the confederation.
On February 12, 1999, a few days after the late King Hussein was buried, Arafat declared that the Palestinian Authority was willing to form a confederation with Jordan in accordance with an old Palestinian National Council resolution. Arafat's Spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, added that the Palestinian Authority is ready to negotiate the confederation with Jordan even before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The statement shocked the Jordanian leadership, mainly because it was delivered in such proximity to the death of King Hussein. The King had repeatedly rejected this idea and on one occasion even stated that he would not have the word 'confederation' uttered anymore in his presence.
The Jordanian leadership responded with much discontent and immediately announced that Jordan's position on the issue of confederation is unchanged, namely, it would not discuss it before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. In addition, the Jordanian Prime Minister at the time, Fayez-Al-Tarawna, summoned the Palestinian Ambassador to Amman, Omar Al-Khatib, and asked for clarification.
Palestinian officials were quick to explain that nothing was meant to be done against the will of the Jordanian and Palestinian peoples and leaderships and that there was no novelty in Arafat's statement. At the same time, however, Palestinian officials stated that the Jordanian-Palestinian bond cannot be severed and that "there is no escape" from establishing a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation on both banks of the Jordan River in the future. Yasser Arafat himself stated to a Jordanian delegation visiting Gaza: "We are one twin brother and you are the other twin brother."
Although Jordan never officially declined the confederation, the Hashemite family has no interest in allowing the PLO to regain a foothold in Jordan. A Palestinian-Jordanian confederation would inevitably curtail the integrity of the Hashemites' sovereignty because they would have to share the government. "Jordan has no need for a confederation because it is a state on its own that enjoys all the elements of a modern state", writes the Jordanian columnist Jihad Al-Mumani. "If Jordanians agree to a unity with their Palestinian brothers..it will only be a gesture in order to solve the Palestinian problem.and in the framework of the state of institutions and sovereignty - (namely,) the Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom led now by King Abdallah, son of Hussein."
Return to News ArchivesBack to Top