King Abdullah II: A true partner for peace

The political argument in Israel vis-à-vis its relationship with Jordan has been malleable to the dictates of its rightist and leftist elites.

Jordan King Abdullah 370 (photo credit:  	 REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
Jordan King Abdullah 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
The political argument in Israel vis-à-vis its relationship with Jordan has been malleable to the dictates of its rightist and leftist elites – as intertwined occasionally with varying tinges of religious- nationalism. Yet despite the fact that it has served both parties well, it is still difficult categorically to box Jordanian-Israeli relationship. Nevertheless, some Israeli strategists have lately discounted the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the role of King Abdullah II –dissipating their energies instead on propping an incorrigible and morally bankrupt Palestinian National Authority, whose democratic “credentials” have never exceeded the insidiousness of its henchmen.
It is true that the Arab Spring has brought new destabilizing realities with the ascension of politicized Islamism, precipitating neighboring regime changes and factoring in many unquantifiable variables. Yet such significant regional flux shouldn’t obfuscate the long-term strategic objective of achieving security for all through a dignified settlement. The prognosis is still mixed, though, as Arab societies have become more introverted and radicalized by the very same events that were supposed to lead to more openness and liberalism, while Israelis have re-entrenched their well-founded regional insecurities. Yet despite such gloom, recent Israeli polls have demonstrated encouraging acceptance of the two-state solution. Notwithstanding equally exhibiting less Israeli sensitivity towards Palestinians civic rights by the minority opting for a bi-national state solution.
Admittedly, over years of adept circumlocutions by self-serving Arab and Israeli politicians punctuated by heinous acts of terror and ever-present potential regional conflagration, the very concept of peace has become a spineless mantra. For, after nearly 20 years of on-and-off negotiations, the “peace process” still means different things to different people. While to many Arabs the peace process has represented a subterfuge aimed at the ultimate dismantlement of the Jewish state. It has served to some Israelis as a convenient cover-up for irredentist and illegal settlements expansion in the Palestinian territories.
FOR THEIR part, some sections of the Israeli media have been the victim of inaccurate if not propagandistic anti-Hashemite reporting, falsely claiming that King Abdullah is about to fall. Far from such subjectively sensationalized reporting, Jordan under King Abdullah today is stronger due to implementing genuine and far-reaching reforms. Due to confidence in the full integrity and transparency of the recent parliamentary elections, King Abdullah has personally insisted on the presence of unfettered foreign election monitors and the establishment of a fully independent election commission. Not a single credible report (local or international) has cast doubt on Jordanian elections. The king has also authorized Jordanian judiciary and public prosecution to investigate and bring down corruption in public and private spheres, resulting in high profile trials that would have been unimaginable few years ago.
If anything, Hashemite Jordan under King Abdullah is consolidating its internal stability by assertive democratic means while gaining regional prominence.
Indeed, under strict orders of King Abdullah, the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID) has undergone quiet but substantial ideological reorientation culminating in the King’s dismissal of two of its directors. It is now prohibited from exercising any political role and is fully accountable under Jordanian law. Furthermore, Jordanian security forces fully accept today that it is Jordanians constitutional right to protest within the law, exhibiting high discipline without discriminating between pro- and antiregime demonstrators.
MAKESHIFT PEACE deals struck with Arab dictators have proved more transient than the dunes shifting sands. Without a twin-track of parallel democratization and peace making much of regional progress in this regard will always come to a naught – hardening the crust of cynicism that is engulfing Arabs and Israelis. For their part, recent revelations in Yigal Kipnis book 1973, The Road to War (2012) have exposed the fallacy of the claim that Israel has had no partners in peace, together with all the missed historic opportunities –with new revelations suggesting that even President Nasser of Egypt being receptive to peace during his early days in power as was purportedly foiled by Prime Minister Moshe Sharett.
Inasmuch as the Israeli president and prime minister are not responsible for the political posturing of members of the Knesset, King Abdullah is not responsible for members of Jordanian parliament political scoring through challenging Jordanian authorities imprisonment of soldier Daqamseh. Neat surveys and compartmentalized intellectual distinctions are far and few between in Jordan. They are not available on this issue or many others. But I have met very few Jordanians who take pride in killing defenseless girls – whether Israelis or otherwise. I personally consider the 7 Israeli girls murdered as the daughters of all of us and that nothing can ever justify taking away their precious lives so abruptly and so senselessly.
The concurrent seven life sentence that has befallen Daqamseh remains the sternest judicial sentence that any individual has ever received in Israel or Jordan when trying their own citizens for committing such crimes. Sadly, Israeli soldiers have been found responsible of extra-judicial killings of Arabs while on duty, and non has served a lengthy sentence as Daqamsah. The circumstance maybe different but murder is murder in the eye of the victim and their families – notwithstanding that each party will seek to show that theirs was the truly aggrieved party.
True partnership in peace is a two-way one, requiring brave visionaries with moral courage and the democratic credentials to build horizontally benefiting our whole region without bigotry or tendentiousness.
Not only has King Abdullah courageously continued to resist intense populous pressure to abrogate Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel. He has assertively stood up against extremist political Islamism that is so desperately trying to rewrite the map of the region. With its earnest reforms and burgeoning democratic credentials, Hashemite Jordan under King Abdullah II offers such true and solid partner for peace.
To me, peace is a noble quest that unites us all. It is not only about complex legal jargons, intricate maps, multi-billion profit making joint economic ventures or countless UN resolutions enunciated in lavish foreign surroundings. It is about every single child, whether Israeli or Arab. “Peace” without courage and conviction is not worth its name or the effort. And yes it is today about us standing up wholeheartedly and unequivocally for these 7 precious Israeli girls and protecting their memory from political manipulation, sharing a prayer and a thought with their family and friends.The writer is a Jordanian visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, and formerly, a UK Home Office employee and former part-time lecturer in public international law at the LSE. He is guest lecturer at Cambridge University, director of the Master’s Program in Islamic Financial Law at BPP University (London), lead doctoral supervisor at Greenwich Management School (University of Wales) and author of Raising Capital on Arab Equity Markets: Legal and Juridical Aspects of Arab Securities Regulation (Kluwer Law International, 2012).