Rabbi Moshe Reiss
- Palestinian conflict: Part F
Is the Palestinian
State the Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan
or is that a dangerous
The Israeli unilateral disengagement
the security fence means separation of the two Palestinian entities
Palestinian Authority. A number of questions arise: Can the Gaza
and the Arab cities in the West Bank
economically separately? Does Gaza need
an economic and security relation with Egypt? Do the West Bank
require an economic and possibility security arrangement with Jordan?
Can two separate entities
one in the West Bank and one in Gaza
develop successfully? If so would the West bank cities align themselves
The toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussein and the weakening of the younger Assad in Syria
have cast Jordan
as a more central player on the regional political stage. Prior to the
Saddam Hussein, Jordan's
geopolitical role was largely limited by its identity as a buffer state
Iraq and Israel.
has been well aware that Israel
has served as the guarantor of the kingdom's survival against a
invasion from the north or an Iraqi assault from the east.
However, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in
2003, subsequent American and European pressure on Syria to roll back
support for radical Islamic terror, and Saudi Arabia's preoccupation
growing internal al-Qaeda threat have opened up an opportunity for
influence developments in Iraq and play a more direct role in the West
well. Hamas’ victory adds more fuel to
this potential fire.
Arafat had sidelined Jordan throughout the Oslo
years and undermined the kingdom's special role as guardian of Muslim
sites in Jerusalem.
Abbas, on the other hand, keeps close ties to King Abdullah and the top
echelons of the Jordanian government. He is a frequent visitor to Amman and has demonstrated a public interest in a
reengagement with Jordan
in several spheres.
More intensified consultation between
the PA and Jordan since 2004 òeflects the growing concern that
in the West Bank threatens the
the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians continue to be victimized by
gangs engaging in theft, extortion and street warfare.
As a result, some prominent West Bank
Palestinians requested that Jordan
send security forces to the West Bank
establish law and order. King Abdullah has agreed to send several
members of the Jordanian-commanded Palestinian Badr Brigade, currently
comprised of Palestinian refugees of the 1967 war who are part of the
Liberation Army. However, Israel
opposes this in part due to concerns that the Badr Brigade would not
Palestinian security problems since the PA lacks a stable security
supervise the Jordanian force.
Formally, the Badr Brigade was one of
four brigades of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) established by the
various Arab countries (including the Ain Jalut Brigade in Egypt, the
Brigade in Iraq, the Hittin and Yarmuk Brigades in Syria, and the Badr
in Jordan). Over time, however, the PLO lost control as these brigades
under the sway of their host countries. So far Israel has refused
On a political level, the idea of a
is not foreign to Palestinian leaders. In practical terms, Jordanian
reconsideration of assuming an enhanced West Bank
role is coming about because of concern with the possibility that the
Palestinian Authority might actually collapse. Jordan is obsessed with
problem of thousands of Palestinians crossing over from the West Bank
Hashemite kingdom and seeking refuge. If the call for a Jordanian role
come from the Palestinians themselves, King Abdullah might be more
to pursuing such a new course of action, if it can help avert scenarios
are viewed in Amman as far more threatening to the kingdom's own
Therefore, the idea of a
Palestinian-Jordanian reengagement and possible confederation even
Palestinians achieve independence is no longer completely off the table
either side of the Jordan River. It
also be reconsidered by American policy-makers, for whom a viable and
contiguous Palestinian state is a stated policy goal; one which might
become possible if America's Jordanian allies can more actively help to
establish the necessary security and economic infrastructure that has
lacking in the development efforts of the Palestinian Authority alone.
Ephraim Inbar, Professor at Bar Ilan
University and Director of the
considers a confederation as the most likely result of the PA failure.
However a cloud of uncertainty hovers
over Israeli-Jordanian relations In February a senior Israel Defense Forces commander
uncertainty as to the future of Hashemite rule in Jordan. Central
Command General Yair Naveh of Israel
said that at least 80 percent of Jordan's
citizens are Palestinian and that, due to regional threats, King
Abdullah is liable
to be the last Hashemite monarch to lead the kingdom.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and IDF
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz responded by hastened to issue a statement
softening the blow of Naveh's comments. Director of the Jerusalem
Center for Public
Affairs and Israeli former U.N. Representative Dore Gold, told Haaretz
Naveh spoke on the security and strategic threats on Israel's eastern
provided his audience with a security - rather than political -
The quiet Hashemite kingdom produced
the man thought to be spearheading the deadliest aspects of the Iraqi
insurgency — and who brought the fight back to Jordan in three hotel
last December (2005) - known as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his hometown
Zarqa, a poor city an hour's drive north of Amman. How did the quiet
produce a man who has become known as the Sheik of the Slaughterers?
home to many jihadis, young men from much the same milieu that produced
Zarqawi, and especially since the United States invaded Iraq nearly
ago, Jordan has increasingly become a not-so-quiet place, a place where
Islamists cross easily into Iraq and back, a place where a jihadist
can seem almost a normal part of a nation's life.
Zarqawi was a criminal before he was a
jihadi. He was a wild young man, according to all who knew him and have
recounted his story in the Arab media. He had no interest in religion.
high-school dropout, he had a reputation for getting tattoos, drinking
and getting into fights, and he ended up in jail in the 1980's. After
released, he went to Afghanistan,
in 1989, where the successful jihad against the Soviets had turned into
of one Afghan faction against another.
His time in prison was as important for
the movement as their experiences in Afghanistan were, bonding
who suffered together and giving them time to formulate their ideas.
it was educational as well. One experienced jihadi who knew Zarqawi in Afghanistan
stated: "When I heard Zarqawi speak, I didn't believe this is the same
Zarqawi. But six years in jail gave him a good chance to educate
Zarqawi was such a strict Salafi that
he criticized the Taliban — for insufficiently imposing Shariah and for
the United Nations, an infidel organization. And thus he criticized Al
well for associating with the Taliban. Zarqawi established his own camp
the western Afghan city of Herat, close to the border with Iran.
Zarqawi had sent Iraqi suicide bombers
to Amman, three of whom succeeded in detonating their vests in three
hotels, killing more than 60 and injuring more than 100, including many
were attending a wedding. It was Zarqawi's third successful attack in Jordan.
Each time, he had used non-Jordanians to avoid infiltration by the
Jordan’s secret service).
In Jordan the balance of power
the Monarchy and the Islamists is tilted very heavily in favor of the
regime. Two dates in Jordan’s history are etched
deeply in the collective political memory.
One is 1957, when King Hussien outlawed all political parties
Nasserist opposition sought his downfall.
The other is 1970 -- “Black September” -- when the PLO was
following its attempt to overthrow the Hashemites.
Former British Minister SirAnthony
Nutting, said of King Hussein: “However much one may admire the courage
lonely young king, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion his days are
numbered.” In fact, Hussein continued to
rule forty more years and peacefully bequeathed the Monarchy to his
son, Abdullah. The new king in 1999
shortly after his
enthronement decided to expel the Hamas leadership from Jordan;
the Jordanian Brotherhood
responded with petitions and protests but Abdullah refused to back down
Brotherhood kept the peace.