Jordanian military 298.8.
(photo credit: Courtesy [file])
Jordan has ruled out Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's suggestion that Jordanian forces assist the Palestinian Authority in combating terrorism in the West Bank, an idea first reported in The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The Jordanian news service Petra quoted government spokesman Nasser Judeh as saying the idea of sending Jordanian troops to the West Bank "was absolutely rejected by Jordan."
"Many Israeli politicians usually resort to sending out such suggestions, which are definitely rejected by Jordan irrespective of their source or who propagates for them," he said in a statement to Petra.
In a speech to the National Security College graduating class on Thursday, Olmert raised the possibility of Arab forces in the West Bank, and in private meetings - including with Jordanians - the idea of a Jordanian force has been put forward.
"Perhaps when we leave territories in the West Bank, an international force could be one to think about," he was quoted as saying by one of the participants in the meeting. "Perhaps an Arab army in the West Bank."
In recent weeks, amid talk about the possibility of a future Jordanian-Palestinian confederation, King Abdullah II and Jordanian government spokesmen have been extremely sensitive to any public discussion of such a confederation or of agreeing to any of the trappings of a confederation. This, even amid continuous reports that the topic is being broached in meetings between the Jordanians and Israelis and the Jordanians and Palestinians.
"Apart from being categorically rejected by Jordan, these proposals are meant to send a mistaken gesture or hint that the Palestinian national institutions are incapable of shouldering their responsibilities and to circumvent the Palestinian people's right to establish their independent state," Judeh said. "Besides, this is an exposed attempt to entrench the idea of separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip."
Olmert, however, isn't the only person thinking about a possible Jordanian security role in the West Bank. The Post has learned that a security role for the Jordanians in the West Bank was one of the ideas brought to the attention of Quartet envoy Tony Blair during his visit to Jerusalem last week.
What Olmert has in mind, and what has been raised in recent meetings with Abdullah, is not the Badr Brigade - a group of Palestinian soldiers inside the Jordanian Army - but rather "regular," Beduin, troops from the Jordanian Army who have experience fighting terrorism.
The Badr Brigade is a unit in the Jordanian Army comprised of between 1,500 and 2,000 Palestinians who receive salaries from the PLO. The introduction of the Badr Brigade into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to support PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been talked about endlessly and without any concrete results for years.