Abdullah seeks to revive two-state solution, bury 'Jordan is Palestine'

Jordan wants to end talks of turning the kingdom into a Palestinian state and instead be center stage in regional developments. King Abdullah's meeting with US President Joe Biden may pave the way.

Supporters of Jordan's King Abdullah II gather ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
Supporters of Jordan's King Abdullah II gather ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington
Jordan is hoping that King Abdullah’s meeting with US President Joe Biden will pave the way for the kingdom to return to center stage in regional developments, particularly the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Jordan is also hoping that the meeting will put an end to the talk about transforming the kingdom into a Palestinian state.
The meeting comes after years of tension between Amman and Washington under the administration of former US president Donald Trump.
The tension reached its peak early last year when Jordan rejected Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jordan said it was not consulted about the plan, which, it claimed, endorsed former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans for extending Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
According to the Jordanians, one of the goals of the Trump plan was to promote the “Jordan is Palestine” scheme, long promoted by a small group of far-right activists in Israel.
That’s why the Jordanians breathed a sigh of relief when the Biden administration earlier this year endorsed the two-state solution. As far as the Jordanians are concerned, the revival of the two-state solution means the Trump blueprint and the Netanyahu annexation plan are now off the table.
Under the Trump administration, Jordan felt increasingly sidelined by the US and Israel.
The Jordanians were convinced that Trump and Netanyahu were plotting to undermine the kingdom in many ways, including depriving Jordan’s royal family of their role in tending Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
Unconfirmed reports that the Netanyahu government and the Trump administration had offered Saudi Arabia the opportunity to replace Jordan as custodians over the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) in Jerusalem reportedly enraged the Jordanian monarch.
On the eve of Abdullah’s visit to Washington, Jordan’s House of Representatives, the elected lower house of the Jordanian parliament, inaugurated a conference titled, “The Hashemites and Jerusalem: A History of Care and Protection.”
The conference was aimed at sending a message to the Biden administration that the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites is nonnegotiable.
In a speech during the inauguration of the new Jordanian parliament late last year, Abdullah emphasized that “the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites is a duty, a commitment, a firm belief, and a responsibility we have profoundly undertaken for more than a hundred years... Jerusalem is a symbol of peace, and we will not accept any attempts to alter its historical and legal status quo, nor attempts of temporal or spatial division of al-Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif.”
As part of the kingdom’s effort to affirm its custodianship over the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, it has in recent years become a vocal critic of Israeli actions in Jerusalem, especially regarding the Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount.
Hardly a week passes without the Jordanian government issuing a statement condemning Israel for allowing “settlers” to “storm” the Aqsa Mosque compound, referring to routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount.
The recurring condemnations are designed to present Jordan as the main “defender” of the holy shrines in Jerusalem, including al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site. This is a message that Abdullah wishes to direct not only to Arabs and Muslims but to the rest of the international community, specifically the Biden administration.
During his meeting with Biden, Abdullah is expected to raise the issue of Israeli “violations” at the Temple Mount in particular and Jerusalem in general, according to Jordanian sources. He is expected to warn that Israel’s actions could ignite a religious war and threaten security and stability in the Middle East, the sources said.
Abdullah’s stance is fully supported by the Palestinian Authority and other Arabs and Muslims. In 2013, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Abdullah signed an agreement recognizing the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy sites.
Before heading to the US, Abdullah met in Amman with Abbas, and they reaffirmed the accord. During the meeting, Abdullah stressed Jordan’s continuing role in protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites. Abbas, for his part, reiterated the importance of Jordan’s continuing guardianship over the sites.
Abdullah is also scheduled to urge the Biden administration to make an effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on the basis of the two-state solution, with the hope that this would drive the final nail in the coffin of the Trump peace plan and bury the “Jordan is Palestine” option.
The rapprochement between Jordan and the US will also serve to bolster Abdullah’s stance at home, especially in the aftermath of the alleged coup attempt by his half-brother, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein.
The rapprochement sends a message to the king’s critics at home that he continues to enjoy the full support of the US.
This message is also directed toward the new government in Israel, namely, that it needs to improve its relations with Jordan. This improvement means, among other things, refraining from altering the status quo at the Temple Mount.