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'King Abdullah II: Jordan will never be Palestine'
By OREN KESSLER
09/12/2011
Jordanian king says Jordan will never be alternative Palestinian homeland, says "Jordan option" is a political fantasy.
 
The revolts sweeping the Arab world have put Israel in a “difficult position,” and the Hashemite Kingdom will never allow Jordan to become the one and only Palestinian state, the Jordanian monarch said Sunday.

“Jordan and the future of Palestine are stronger than Israel. It is the Israelis who are worried today,” King Abdullah II told a closed meeting of Jordanian intellectuals and academics, according to a transcript released on Monday.

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Abdullah said that during a recent trip he made to the US, an Israeli intellectual told him he believed the so-called Arab Spring served Israeli interests.

“I answered: ‘On the contrary, you are today in a more difficult position than before,’” the king recalled saying, without elaborating.

The language was unusually blunt for Abdullah, head of the Arab state with the closest relations with Israel – if often covert – for most of the latter’s history.

The Saudi daily Al-Madina reported two weeks ago that Abdullah had counseled Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to reconsider the upcoming statehood bid at the UN. A unilateral declaration, Abdullah reportedly said, would mean making the PA the sole representative of the Palestinian people rather than the PLO, which claims to represent eight million Palestinians throughout the world.

Such a move would mean forgoing the Palestinians’ “right of return” to areas now within Israel, the king reportedly said. Sunday’s comments may have represented an attempt to smooth over Jordanian- Palestinian relations.

“We know our direction, and our path is clear in our quest to protect Palestine’s future, and to safeguard our rights when the future of Jerusalem and the refugees’ right of return are negotiated,” the monarch said, according to the English-language Jordan Times.

“We support the Palestinians’ right to establish their state, and our position has not – and will not – change. Therefore, the substitute homeland option should at all times be excluded from any discussion.

“Jordan will never be a substitute land for anyone,” Abdullah said. “It makes no sense.... We have an army and we are ready to fight for our homeland and the future of Jordan. We should speak loudly and not allow such an idea to remain in the minds of some of us. Jordan is Jordan, and Palestine is Palestine.”

The idea of Jordan as Palestine has been in circulation for decades in various forms. Jordan occupied the West Bank from 1948 to 1967, and the Allon Plan drafted in the wake of the Six Day War envisioned the West Bank and the Gaza Strip carved up between Israel and Jordan. The plan was later shelved after Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, dismissed it as unacceptable to the rest of the Arab world, and Israeli settlement activity later rendered its boundaries unworkable.

In 1988, Jordan relinquished its claim to the West Bank, vesting authority over it to the PLO and nullifying West Bank Palestinians’ Jordanian citizenship. The 1993 Oslo Accords that returned the PLO to the West Bank and Gaza meant the “Jordanian option” was all but forgotten by most people.

Over the past decade, amid dissatisfaction with the failure of the Oslo process, some Israeli experts and lawmakers have revived plans for a Jordanian solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the opening session of the World Summit on Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya on Sunday, Israel Beiteinu MK Uzi Landau and former National Security Council chief Uzi Dayan each suggested West Bank Palestinians be given some degree of autonomy within the kingdom.

Meanwhile on Monday, reports emerged that organizers on Facebook are calling for a “million-man march” on the Israeli Embassy in Amman on Thursday.

Mimicking similar gatherings in Cairo, organizers said protesters will try to break into the fortified embassy and take down the Israeli flag. One thousand people have already “liked” the Facebook page promoting the action.

“Our interlocutors in Jordan are aware of the sensitivities,” an Israeli official told Yediot Aharonot. “We hope they will find a way to prevent violence against Israeli diplomats in Jordan.”

Last week, the head of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood praised Turkey’s decision to expel the Israeli ambassador, and called on Jordan and Egypt to do the same.

“Turkey’s decision to expel the Israeli ambassador is a model of foreign policy, reflecting national interest and dignity and not accepting normalization,” Hammam Said said, according to Egypt’s Youm7 magazine. The Islamic Action Front, Jordan’s largest opposition bloc in parliament, is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
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