If you’ve heard former MK Aryeh Eldad speak in the past few years
(before recent Knesset elections, at least), you probably heard him say
something like this: “The vast majority of Jordan is Palestinian.
fear of an uprising, the King of Jordan has his private airplane
running 24 hours a day, seven days a week to whisk him away in case of a
revolt. He should declare that Jordan is the Palestinian national
homeland or seek asylum in London.”
Such language (there was also
a petition and a pamphlet) is only the most recent incarnation of a
push for “Jordan is Palestine,” a slogan many on the Right still adhere
In a lengthy 1988 article on the topic for Commentary
(rejecting “Jordan is Palestine”), Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes and
international affairs expert Adam Garfinkle documented many proponents
of the theory, even practical Israeli plans for potentially realizing
it, and Pipes continues to update the article on his website with
quotations of relevant personalities who maintain the opinion.
Eldad has explained, the goal of making Jordan into Palestine is to
lessen pressure on Israel to implement the “two-state solution.” Once
Jordan becomes Palestine, the “the Palestinians [would] lose their
orphan status as a people without a state” and “their international
demands will become much weaker.”
The two-state solution would
become meaningless as there would already be a Palestinian state, and
there would therefore be much less of an argument for Israel to withdraw
from Judea and Samaria, something Jordan-is-Palestine proponents
rightly fear would lead to grave danger for Israel.
If only it were that simple.
PRESSURE on Israel is not founded only upon the slogan, “two-states for
two peoples.” Such pressure is based on geopolitical factors such as
the millions of Arabs and Muslims who comprise multiple states, who
control large swaths of territory and important resources, who are
sizable minorities of European states and who oppose Israel’s existence
without regard to western formulations.
It is based in an
unspoken anti-Semitism, the feeling that these Israelis, these Jews are
manipulative land-grabbers who take what’s not theirs, who act like they
can do whatever they want, when in reality, if it weren’t for outside
support they would never survive the Arab onslaught.
in Western guilt over imperialism and colonialism and a Jewish tendency
to blame ourselves for the wrongdoing of others.
rationalization and open expression in liberal terminology such as
independence, human rights, national aspirations, democracy, occupation,
apartheid and “two-states for two peoples.” But that’s only the gift
So on the day Jordan is renamed “Palestine,” Israel’s
detractors will not wake up enlightened to the falseness of the claims
of apartheid and occupation. Western ambassadors will not turn to their
Arab counterparts and say – “your claim is resolved, we won’t play along
with your war against Israel any longer.”
On the day Jordan
becomes Palestine, the pressure on Israel will increase. In place of a
state ruled by a Hashemite monarchy allied with the US, which
controversially entered into a treaty with Israel and which cooperates
with Israel on security matters, there would instead be a state ruled by
a majority that believes Israel’s existence is a nakba, a catastrophe,
committed by the most vile people; that Israel is actually their
homeland wrongfully stolen from them. And, they would have all the tools
of statehood – diplomatic and military, as well as a very long shared
border – at their disposal to right that wrong and create more
Today, Jordan reportedly allows armed Israeli drones
to use its airspace to operate in Syria, and Israeli drones are even
monitoring the Syria-Jordan border on Jordan’s behalf. That 110 of the
120 members of Jordan’s lower legislative house recently signed a
petition calling for the release of a Jordanian terrorist who murdered
seven Israeli schoolgirls while they were visiting the “Island of Peace”
in Jordan, however – not to mention the rise of Islamists in Egypt and
soon in Syria – is a sign of what non- Hashemite rule would look like.
Palestinian-ruled Jordan therefore represents a danger almost identical
to, perhaps even greater than, a Palestinian state in Judea and
Samaria, and no hasbarah (public diplomacy) activist or ambassador
complaining about how the two-state solution was already implemented is
going to change that.
The “Jordan-is-Palestine” plan is thus a
right-wing fantasy which mirrors the left-wing fantasy of the “two-state
solution.” Both are based on the assumption that if the Palestinians
had a state of their own, the conflict would cease, Israel would capture
the moral high ground and the fundamental perception of the conflict
would shift, that it would become a run-of-the mill territorial
dispute between states, etc.
The right-wing version, however, is
more hypocritical as its proponents recognize something their leftwing
counterparts fail to: that the creation of a Palestinian state in the
“West Bank” would not lead to an end of the conflict or improve Israel’s
diplomatic position. Despite this recognition, the Jordan-is- Palestine
proponents pursue in the east bank the very logic they rightfully
reject with regard to the west bank.
There is, however, an
important hasbarah function served by the Jordan-is-Palestine argument.
It’s a reminder of a history that has been forgotten, ignored and
repressed: the history of how the international community unanimously
recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine”
and “the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that
country,” and how Judea and Samaria is not alien territory to Jews, but
part of their homeland which was illegally conquered and ethnically
cleansed of its Jews by Jordan in 1948 and renamed the “West Bank” in
That history undermines the narrative that Israel’s
creation was a post-Holocaust scheme in which the Jews, with
guilt-ridden European help, stole land which was not their own, and all
the policy implications that narrative carries, such as the alleged need
to establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.
a reminder of how that policy has already failed as once before
territory the Jews sought (“every expert knows that for a prosperous
Palestine, an adequate territory beyond the Jordan is indispensable,”
Herbert Samuel once said, prior to becoming High Commissioner) and which
was part of (actually, the majority of) the land promised to them, was
relinquished and handed over to Arabs, yet Arab aspirations were not
satiated and violent opposition to Zionism did not abate. It also asks
the reader: if a Palestinian-Arab state already exists, why does justice
demand that there be another one?
But hasbarah has its limits. And
whatever the utility of Jordan-is-Palestine as a hasbarah point, it does
not remove the danger that Jordan-is-Palestine as a peace plan would
pose – dangers which all of the history prior and subsequent to Israel’s
establishment point to.
The writer is a political activist and an attorney.