Israeli Expansionism Top Threat to Jordan’s Stability

Trump’s “peace plan” would confront Amman with an influx of Palestinian refugees, who would follow refugee influxes from post-2003 Iraq and post-2011 Syria, writes Giorgio Cafiero.

Jabal el-Hussein camp for Palstinian refugees, northwest of Amman. (Hasanisawi, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Giorgio Cafiero
Special to Consortium News

The Trump administration’s agenda vis-à-vis Israel/Palestine has left Jordan in a difficult position. With less room to maneuver as the White House pushes for a “solution” to this conflict that meets the maximalist demands of Israel’s government without securing any rights of Palestinians, officials in Amman see U.S. and Israeli policies as long-term drivers of instability in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Many Arab states have become less insistent that normalization of relations with Israel can only take place if/when a sovereign Palestinian state is established based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. But Jordan — despite being at peace with Israel — remains firmly committed to this stance.

Thus, while determined to maintain Amman’s close relationship with Washington, the Jordanian leadership was also keen to respond quickly to the unveiled “peace plan” last month following the White House ceremony that featured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Jan. 28, The Jordan Times published a statement from Jordan’s chief diplomat, stressing that “the national interests of Jordan and its established and unwavering positions and principles toward the Palestinian issue governs the way the government deals with all proposals and initiatives aimed at resolving the conflict.”

Amman’s foreign minister cautioned against “the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as the annexation of Palestinian lands, the building and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands, and encroachments on the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, that aim at imposing new realities on the ground.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at left, with President Donald J. Trump, Jan. 27, 2020, in the Oval Office. (White House, Shealah Craighead)

Crossing Jordan

Put simply, an Israeli military annexation of the Jordan Valley and other large parts of the West Bank would cross the Jordanian government’s red lines. Any plan that departs from the long-standing two-state solution could not be accepted by the leadership in Amman.

If Trump and his son-in-law’s “peace plan” is to be pursued, Jordan will find its own stability severely jeopardized because such Israeli actions would almost inevitably lead to an influx of Palestinian refugees into Jordan. This would raise questions about the viability of the Jordanian-Israeli Wadi Araba peace treaty signed in 1994.

With approximately 70 percent of those in Jordan being Palestinian (at least according to the 2015 census), it is tough to imagine Israeli annexation of the West Bank not triggering widespread unrest in Jordan.

Another important factor pertains to King Abdullah II’s religious custodianship of Muslim/Christian sites in Jerusalem. As a result of the Trump administration recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Holy City’s status has been an increasingly sensitive issue from a Jordanian perspective. Additionally, Amman has seen the White House’s efforts to dismantle the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides services to many Palestinian refugees in Jordan and elsewhere, as another threat to Jordanian interests.

A right-wing narrative in Israel is that “Jordan is Palestine.” This is not new. But what is relatively new is the consecutive Likudist governments in Israel and the Trump presidency, which supports Israel in its rejection of the idea of any sovereign Palestinian state ever existing in the West Bank.

Thus, Jordan fears that the Israelis, with the White House’s blessing, will annex the West Bank and force Jordan to suffer the consequences of a growing number of Palestinians coming into the Hashemite Kingdom, placing a further strain on public resources. Following the refugee influx from post-2003 Iraq and post-2011 Syria, another refugee crisis is not what anyone in the Hashemite Kingdom desires.

Difficult Decisions

King Abdullah II of Jordan, left, and President Donald J. Trump, in 2017. (White House, Shealah Craighead)

At this juncture, the Jordanian government must make difficult decisions in preparation for an Israeli annexation of the West Bank. This raises questions about the viability of the 1994 peace treaty. On one hand, rage is growing across Jordan and many of the Hashemite Kingdom’s citizens are livid at the U.S., along with Arab Gulf states, for their reactions and positions in relation to Israel’s expansionism into Palestinian land.

Pulling out of the Wadi Araba treaty would be a popular move domestically. On the other hand, tearing the peace treaty to shreds would have extremely serious implications for the future of Jordan’s relationship with Washington.

There is no denying that at no point since 1994 has the Jordanian-Israeli relationship come under greater stress than it has during the current period. This is in no small part due to the Trump administration’s sidelining of Amman and interest in bringing Arab Gulf states and Tel Aviv closer together while disregarding Jordan’s legitimate concerns and national interests against the backdrop of Netanyahu’s government pursuing its continued colonization of Palestinian land.

For the Jordanian king, there are no easy options. Unquestionably, Trump and Netanyahu have given him less room to maneuver as international, regional, and domestic pressures intensify on the Hashemite Kingdom. It is by no means a stretch to suggest that Jordan’s illusive stability will likely be one of the victims of what is truly the steal (not deal) of the century.

Giorgio Cafiero (@GiorgioCafiero) is the CEO of Gulf State Analytics (@GulfStateAnalyt), a Washington-based geopolitical risk consultancy.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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14 comments for “Israeli Expansionism Top Threat to Jordan’s Stability

  1. Igor Slamoff
    February 11, 2020 at 06:10

    The author claims that “such Israeli actions (i.e. annexation of Jordan valley) would almost inevitably lead to an influx of Palestinian refugees into Jordan”. Where would those refugees come from? The Israeli government has not threatened to expel anybody from any lands Israel may annex along the Jordan. The current inhabitants of thoe areas would presumably become Israeli citizens.

  2. earthling1
    February 11, 2020 at 02:15

    The New Silk Road could cut through Jordan on its way to Africa. Presented here is opportunity for Russia and China to forge a new alliance that benefits millions.
    And a serious, if not mortal blow to NATO.

  3. Don Bacon
    February 9, 2020 at 20:51

    UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, the polestar for Israel behavior, mentions the Middle East and Israel but says nothing about Palestine, or two states, and includes “…guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area.”

    That would especially include Israel, which has taken the position that it must control the entire territory and its borders as a State in the area to ensure its security. Many Palestinians support a one-state solution, which when looking at a map of Palestine seems to be the only possible solution.

    • Hank
      February 10, 2020 at 09:43

      Everything Israel wants Israel gets! That’s right – – – the “great” USA seems to cuddle up to tyrannical regimes around the world with the intent to sell them weapons, which they then use in a way that would get the USA to attack a nation if they weren’t on its “friendly” list. Hypocrisy and double standards abound and when someone expresses resistance to unjust policies they are called a “terrorist”! Someone in Iran farts and the USA is ready to attack! The IDF slaughters Palestinians and its because “Israel has a right to self defense”. But does Israel, let alone its guard dog the USA, create their own “need for defense” do they really have a “right to self defense”? If someone breaks into your house do YOU have a right to self defense? I don’t think so anymore than USA/Israel have a right to NOT be attacked for violating a nation!

  4. Robert Edwards
    February 9, 2020 at 12:29

    Yes, there is something Jorad can do, get prepared and fast. Get Russia and/or China to support their sovereignty with military bases and personnel. It’s paramount for Russia, Iran and Syria that Jordan remain secure – Israels intention of dominating the middle east must at all costs be stopped before it becomes another war that Jordans allies must get involved with. Palestinians and Palestine was at peace for hundreds of years with Jewish, Christian, Muslim inhabitants before the Balfour declaration. It was the American Jews that pushed for an Israeli state and look what has happened – as the old saying goes, “Give them an inch and they will take a mile”. Israeli plans for colonizing the middle east must come to an end, and if Nato, America, and the west are silent, then, be it on their heads….

  5. anon27
    February 8, 2020 at 19:47

    Less than ten percent of the Jordanian population approves of any US presence there.
    It is surprising that Jordan has not joined Iran/Iraq/Syria and expelled the US.
    What the Mideast needs is reconciliation of all parties against Israel and its tyrannical neighbors.
    An ideology of unity, ignoring religious differences and historical conflicts.
    A united front against the US, perhaps supported by Turkey and Russia.
    Unity against KSA and UAE, perhaps Egypt, and all who cooperate with Israel and the US.
    They need to recognize that their differences are exploited, and are dwarfed by their commonalities.
    Only when they have Israel surrounded, and share their military powers, can they save the Palestinians.

  6. Mark Thomason
    February 8, 2020 at 12:02

    The threat to Jordan is the Israeli idea that “Jordan is Palestine.”

    Having taken everything from the original population of Israel, the solution now suggested is to take very nearly everything from Jordanians, and give it to those dispossessed of Israel.

    Jordan was not the Palestinian state. It was a Bedouin state. That has already been submerged under past refugee flows, and now Israel means to finish it off.

  7. February 8, 2020 at 07:18

    It makes sense that the US and Israel together have a plan to disrupt/disorganize the countries surrounding Israel.
    Iraq was a case in point. Syria is a case in point, and so was Lebanon. And now we see it again with Jordan.

  8. February 8, 2020 at 05:59

    Yes, and it has been the publicly-articulated view for many years by some prominent Israelis that Jordan is where the Palestinians belong, not around Israel.

    So now, they are working to make it happen, at least in part.

    • Robert Edwards
      February 9, 2020 at 12:27

      NO, and NO, the Palestinians belong in Palestine of which Israel is the interloper. The Jews lived quite happily there before Israel’s colonization plans which the American Jews promulgated…. along with the British.

    • Sam F
      February 11, 2020 at 07:43

      Robert, he meant that, but did not clearly enough object to the Israeli line.

  9. jsinton
    February 8, 2020 at 04:49

    Jordan’s hands were always tied. It was always a poor country. Just like before, this king will have to walk a tightrope too. My guess is the plan is to wait it out and hope it gets better. Not much else anyone can do anymore. No Arab consensus .

  10. Donald Duck
    February 8, 2020 at 04:35

    Plans for a Greater Israel seem to be going quite well. If they are not asleep at the wheel the Petainist-led Arab states in the area going to find an unwelcome, expansionist Zionist state and its American proxies as de facto close neighbours, and in the very close proximity. It should have been obvious by now that the Oded Yinon reconfiguration of the area means the elimination not only of the Palestinians by all means necessary, but also includes the complete subjugation of the whole strategic area to Anglo-Zionist interests. In this blatant neo-imperial offensive the de facto policy of the zionist leviathan can be quite simply state, as 1. compliance with Zionist objectives which will mean the end of sovereignty and vassalisation of the of these states, or 2. failing that – decimation.

    This has already happened in Europe which underwent a long US subversion form 1945 and which is now occupied and controlled by NATO.

    The only policy to this imperialism in reverse is resistance. The path chose by Iran, Iraq and Syria is going to be very painful but if sovereignty means anything it is the only way forward.

    • Robert Edwards
      February 9, 2020 at 11:52

      Yes, it’s the only way forward – and the sooner they realise this the sooner they will be prepared for the evil march of Zionism/Israel crossing into their sovereignty.

Comments are closed.