Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, in Ramallah, in the West Bank August 15, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Many Palestinians and Jordanians have expressed surprise over the renewed talk about a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation, saying they believe the idea is being floated as part of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
They also warned that the proposed confederation was part of an Israeli-American “conspiracy” aimed at preventing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and turning Jordan into the homeland of the Palestinians.
On Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying that the Trump administration had offered him
a peace plan based on confederation with Jordan.
Abbas reportedly told an Israeli Peace Now delegation that US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt had asked him whether he believes in a confederation with Jordan. He did not say when this happened.
According to Peace Now, Abbas replied: “Yes, [but] I want a triangular confederation with Jordan and Israel.”
PA officials in Ramallah immediately downplayed the significance of Abbas’s remark and said the PA president remains committed to the two-state solution.
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, said that the Palestinian-Jordanian confederation idea has been on the agenda of the Palestinian leadership since 1984. “Since then, the Palestinian leadership’s stance has been that the two-state solution is the only gateway for our special relationship with Jordan,” Abu Rudaineh said. “Any decision on a confederation should be decided by the Palestinians and Jordanians.”
Abu Rudaineh’s statement is being interpreted by some Palestinians and Jordanians as a sign that Abbas and the PA leadership do not rule out confederation. They also see the PA position as proof of Abbas’s “collusion” with Trump’s unseen plan, which is also referred to as the deal of the century.
“Abbas is apparently prepared to give up his job as president of Palestine to become the mayor of a local municipal council in a Jordanian province,” commented a Ramallah-based senior official with the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) group. “The confederation idea is aimed at destroying any chance of establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The official claimed that the renewed talk about a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation was part of a “suspicious Israeli-American conspiracy to eliminate Palestinian rights and prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.” The proposed confederation, he added, was also aimed at reviving the idea of creating a Palestinian state in Jordan.
A Palestinian political analyst told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas’s talk about the confederation idea would strain the relationship between the PA leadership and Jordan. “The Palestinians need the backing of all the Arab countries, including Jordan. The Jordanians have always been wary of the confederation idea because they believe it is part of the Jordan is Palestine conspiracy.”
He said that many Palestinians believe that Abbas’s talk about a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation reflects the state of “confusion and uncertainty” plaguing the PA’s top brass.
“Many Palestinians are no longer sure what Abbas wants,” the analyst said. “On the one hand, he says he’s strongly opposed to Trump’s peace plan and considers it a conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause and rights. On the other hand, Abbas seems to be willing to cooperate with the confederation scheme, which is also designed to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”
Hamas and several Palestinian political factions lashed out at Abbas for talking about the confederation idea and warned the PA leadership not to accept it.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that the PA president’s remarks help “legitimize” Israel and “encourage the US administration to pursue its efforts to liquidate the Palestinian cause and abolish the right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants back to their former homes inside Israel.
The Jordanians have also come out strongly against the idea
, saying it threatens both the Palestinians and the Hashemite kingdom.
Many Jordanian officials, politicians and commentators warned that the confederation “conspiracy” was in the context of the US administration’s effort to pass Trump’s purported peace plan.
Any Palestinian-Jordanian confederation should take place between two independent states, and not while the Palestinians are still without a state, they emphasized.
Shortly after Abbas’s remarks appeared in the Israeli media, Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat dismissed the confederation idea and said it was not up for negotiations.
Hamdadeh Faraneh, a prominent Jordanian columnist, said that his country rejected not only the idea of a confederation, “but also a federation and a fusion and any unity relation between Jordan and Palestine.” The confederation plan, he argued, was aimed at “emptying Palestine of its people in line with the expansionist colonialist schemes. It is dangerous not only for Palestine, but also for Jordan because it will return the kingdom into a container for absorbing the Palestinians.”
Atef Tarawneh, speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives, said that the talk about a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation would be possible only after the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. He warned that in the absence of a Palestinian state, the confederation plan would be regarded as an attempt to “rob” the Palestinians of their rights.
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