King Abdullah is seeking to complete the divorce proceedings between Jordan and
the Palestinians which his late father, King Hussein, began in 1988.
separation began in July that year, a few months after the eruption of the first
King Hussein realized back then that it was not in the interest
of his kingdom to maintain a linkage to the West Bank, home to hundreds of
thousands of Palestinians.
His biggest fear was that the intifada would
spill over into Jordan, where the Palestinian majority would rise against his monarchy.
By cutting off Jordan’s legal and administrative ties with
the West Bank, King Hussein signaled his desire to part from the Palestinians
living there. Jordanians and Palestinians at the time hailed the decision as a
positive step toward the Palestinians establishing a state of their
But many Jordanians felt that the divorce had not been completed
given the fact that most Palestinians living in the kingdom continue to hold
In recent years, King Abdullah has faced calls
from fellow Jordanians to act quickly to ensure that the separation from the
Palestinians would be completed.
In 2009, Amman quietly began revoking
the Jordanian citizenship of thousands of Palestinians, triggering strong
protests from human rights organizations and pro-Palestinian groups around the
Over the past year, Jordan has witnessed increased demands for
reforms and democracy. The “Arab Spring” that has been sweeping the Arab world
has prompted thousands of Jordanians to take to the streets every week to demand
real changes and freedoms.
The growing protests have clearly embarrassed
and confused King Abdullah, who is feeling the heat approaching him
The monarch’s biggest fear is that the powerful and popular
Muslim Brotherhood organization would form an alliance with the Palestinians and
turn against his regime, seriously undermining his grip on power.
Abdullah is now hoping that a new electoral law would prevent both the Islamists
and Palestinians from gaining victories in the upcoming parliamentary election,
scheduled for later this year.
Talk in Israel and elsewhere about turning
Jordan into a Palestinian state has also left the king worried about the future
of his kingdom. That explains why he is not even prepared to receive 1,100
Palestinian refugees who have fled Syria in recent weeks, while at the same time
welcoming more than 100,000 Syrians who crossed the border into
The Jordanians have no problem absorbing tens of thousands of
Iraqis, Syrians and Libyans. But when it comes to the Palestinians, it’s a
completely different story. The last thing King Abdullah needs is another
500,000 Palestinians in the country.
King Abdullah is now seeking to
distance himself from the Palestinians. He says he wants the Palestinians to go
to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and establish their own state there, and not
The king feels reassured only when an Israeli or US official
tells him that “Jordan is for the Jordanians and Palestine for the