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The Jordanian political and intellectual elites are outraged. Why? Because OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said Jordanians of Palestinian descent will want to overthrow their monarchy and that there are enough of them to do it.
There are three problems here from the Jordanian perspective. The first is that to even hint that the Hashemite King Abdullah II will be removed forcibly from his seat is to question the king himself. And to question the king is beyond unacceptable. It borders on profanity.
"When it comes to His Majesty it is a red line," a high-ranking Jordanian government official told The Jerusalem Post. "We cannot accept it and we reject it."
Naveh works closely with the Jordanians over security issues. When asked if Jordan will refuse to work him, the official declined to reply. "Ask the Israelis if they will keep him."
But there are other aspects to the two statements, which, true or not, are a deeply problematic to Jordanians.
As the general in charge of the area that shares a border with Jordan, Naveh is supposedly in-the-know. And if he is in the know and he says that the Jordanian regime is in danger, then maybe this is true. By announcing that as a fact he is in effect destabilizing the regime.
"He's inciting against the regime in Jordan," said Hassan Barrari, a Jordanian expert on Israeli affairs. "We don't care about intentions [of his statement], but it creates confusion among Jordaniansâ€¦If this guy keeps talking like that - that the king is doomed - what message is he sending to Jordanians? He is a key person. The fact that this guy is part of security dialogue with Israel means he knows much more. So the fact that he is saying this is outrageous. People here are really angry."
Barrari, an associate at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, said Naveh's information about Palestinians is wrong. According to the 1994 census Palestinians are 43% of the population, he said.
Nevertheless, he said, it does not matter. "They are citizens," Barrari told the Post. "To us that statement is incitement. It's like saying: 'You guys are a majority in Jordan. Why don't you rise up and take over?'"
Barrari added that the Palestinian problem "is in Palestine, not here."
Jordan, however, did have problems in 1970 when the PLO tried to take over the country. The result was a violent crackdown on them by former King Hussein which ended with thousands of Palestinians killed. Relations have since improved, but under great pressure from Israel, King Hussein forced Hamas to leave in the 1990's.
In recent years, Jordan has made a concerted effort to make all of the Palestinians living within its borders equal members of society. Unlike other Arab countries to which Palestinian refugees escaped, in Jordan Palestinians were given citizenship. Recently, the government started a campaign called "Jordan First" meant to make people feel that the Jordanian nationality is the first identity of all citizens.
Barrari said the statements are considered by the elite not only disrespectful and dangerous, but opposing peace.
"This is the second time such a thing is happening," he said. "The first was when Dani Yatom sent his agents to assassinate Khaled Mashaal. We are asking Israelis: do you really want peace? And if you do, why do you put these people to work with us? I love Israelis and I want to have peace with them and then they put this guy on the other side of the river."
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