The Jordanian dilemma

It’s hard to rebut the Palestinian narrative without bringing up Jordan, yet doing so has real costs.

By
November 11, 2013 15:47
Jordan's King Abdullah welcomes PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the Royal Palace in Amman

Jordan's King Abdullah welcomes PA President Mahmoud Abbas 5. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Writing in this paper on Friday, Martin Sherman correctly pointed out that “the origins of the assault on Israel’s legitimacy are rooted in the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative.” Once someone is convinced that a) the Palestinians have a right to a state, and b) the West Bank and Gaza are “occupied Palestinian territories” that rightly belong to a Palestinian state, he will necessarily see any Israeli effort to impose conditions on this state’s establishment, or to curtail its territory, as illegitimate. In a clash between “rights” and “security needs,” rights will always win.

There’s no conceivable excuse for Israel’s failure to combat the second half of this Palestinian claim. But there’s a substantive reason for its historical reluctance to challenge the first half, and it can be summed up in a single word: Jordan. For the simplest rebuttal to the claim that the Palestinians have a “right” to establish a state is to point out the obvious but perpetually overlooked fact that a Palestinian state already exists: It occupies fully 80 percent of the original British Mandate for Palestine, and its population is roughly two-thirds Palestinian. It just happens to be called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan rather than Palestine.

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