Abdullah seeking divorce from Palestinians

Analysis: Jordanian King Abdullah wishes to finish what his late father King Hussein began - full separation from the Palestinians.

April 12, 2012 00:46
2 minute read.
King Abdullah of Jordan

King Abdullah of Jordan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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King Abdullah is seeking to complete the divorce proceedings between Jordan and the Palestinians which his late father, King Hussein, began in 1988.

The separation began in July that year, a few months after the eruption of the first intifada.

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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 own.

But many Jordanians felt that the divorce had not been completed given the fact that most Palestinians living in the kingdom continue to hold Jordanian citizenship.

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 world.

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 rapidly.

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.

King 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 Jordan.

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 elsewhere.

The king feels reassured only when an Israeli or US official tells him that “Jordan is for the Jordanians and Palestine for the Palestinians.”

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