“The political trust is goneâ€¦.Economically, we were better off in trade and in movement before my father signed the peace treaty” – King Abdullah on relations between Israel and Jordan. In a The Wall Street Journal interview, King Abdullah offered a rebuke of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charging that his policy of building homes for Jewish families in East Jerusalem has pushed Jordanian-Israeli relations to their lowest point since a 1994 peace treaty. [source]
You can read the full interview here. Suffice to say, this is a fairly interesting interview from my point view, if nothing than for it being one of the few candid interviews with regards to the Israel issue. The tradition has always been to hold the steady line that things between Jordan and Israel are great, even though realities on the ground suggest otherwise. This maybe the first time I’ve heard HM King Abdullah actually come out and say that not only are things bad, but they’ve worst they’ve ever been. In fact, economically-speaking, King Abdullah states Jordan was better off before the signing of the peace treaty:
WSJ: When you talk about Jordanian-Israeli relations at a low, it’s just because there has not been that trust on this issue?
HM: The political trust is gone, there is no real economic relationship between Jordan and Israel, for Israeli businessmen to get into Jordan he takes a visa that day; it is almost impossible for a Jordanian businessmen to enter Israel. So economically we were better off in trade and in movement before my father signed the peace treaty. I mean, obviously there was the golden period of the wonderful relationship between my father and Prime Minister Rabin, and after the death of PM Rabin, again there was a resurgence with PM Barak, but it’s just been a decline since then.
Another interesting part is in the depiction of Netanyahu:
WSJ: Considering the history between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and you and your father, do you think he can deliver in the peace process?
HM: I think the overlap that happened between me and Prime Minister Netanyahu 10 or 11 years ago was not very pleasant. It was actually the three most unpleasant months in the relationship between Jordan and Israel. I met Benjamin Netanyahu; he was sitting here this time last year. I was extremely optimistic by the vision he had for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Arabs. However, I have to say that over the past 12 months, everything I’ve seen on the ground has made me extremely skeptical, and I’m probably one of the more optimistic people you will meet in this part of the world. And therefore, there’s been a lot of words, but the actions on the ground have made me extremely concerned about how straightforward Israeli policy is. And at the same time we have continued provocations in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem specifically engages Jordan because we are the custodians of the Muslim and Christian holy places and this is a flashpoint that goes beyond Jordanian-Israeli relations. This is something that could ignite Muslim frustration and anger, which we do not need today. So there are elements that are playing with fire and so, this has been an uphill struggle for the past couple of months. And unfortunately, for the first time since my father made peace with Israel, our relationship with Israel is at an all bottom low. It hasn’t been as bad as it is today and as tense as it is today.
It is interesting to note that much of Israel’s actions, specifically in Jerusalem have somewhat continuously eroded the legitimacy and credibility of the Hashemite role in the holy city, as “custodians of the Muslim and Christian holy places”. Every infringement on those territories have been met with nothing more than a stern word from the Jordanian government, and little else. Continuous reprimands tend to lose their value when the other side ignores them completely and pursues its agenda regardless. It sends a strong signal that whatever role Jordan plays in Jerusalem is of absolutely no value. And that perception is not far off from reality.
On the alternative homeland issue, which has been an issue plaguing this country for quite some time, but more so recently:
HM: …In America specifically, you hear, well, why doesn’t Jordan take the Palestinians into our country? â€¦ That would create tremendous instability. So if the Israelis want to push the Palestinians into Jordan, I don’t see how that makes sense and how the international community will accept that because that would be an exodus of 1.8 million Palestinians from their homes into Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. And that would bring even more instability on their borders. But it still does not solve their long-term problem … because the Arab-Israeli population in Israel proper, in eight to ten years, will be 50% of Israel. The Israelis have a major challenge on the future of their existence.
WSJ: What do you think when you look at Iran and international policy. There’s a lot of talk now about how active Iran is in Iraq as far as trying to push their political clients. Do you see it active in Hezbollah/Lebanon? In the Palestinian territories? Is the engagement track working?
HM: Again, I look at it from a different angle. If there are those that are saying that Iran is playing mischief, then I say it is being allowed to play mischief. The platform they use is the injustice of the Palestinians and Jerusalem. So if you start taking those cards off the table, then Iranian influence on the Mediterranean through Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza diminishes or becomes non existent. My view is that I am really against any military action in Iran, that is Pandora’s box. But by dealing with the core issue, that’s when you start taking cards away from the Iranian regime.
This is a long way from the fear-inducing message of the geo-political “shiite crescent” a few years back. Instead another message emerges: if Israel attacks it will be disastrous, and the only way to diminish Iran’s role is to take away the issues that empower it, mainly by solving them.
Say what you will about this interview, it is comparatively some of the toughest language launched at Israel from Jordan that I’ve ever seen coming from King Abdullah. The alternative homeland is a never-ending rumor inside the kingdom, and even now it threatens the government’s decentralization plan for Jordanian governorates – a plan that was abandoned a few years back when the issue of the alternative homeland was thrown in the mix an the government was accused by tribalists and nationalists that their intention was to weaken Jordan in preparation for an alternative homeland. Again, this is something that the King has taken off the table, but even now this issue continues to linger locally. Perceptions on the ground tend to lean towards the belief that the US and Israel can generally make this happen if they will it, which is something that is historically accurate, but in this of all issues, the idea of creating an alternative homeland for Palestinians in the Kingdom will likely result in – as the King alluded to – one of the most destabilizing moves in the region since God knows when. However, it is not only another exodus of Palestinians in the West Bank or various other external elements the King referred to that are cause for concern. Domestically and internally there’s another issue to consider. The Jordanian army, consisting primarily of Jordanian tribalists and nationalists, will simply not allow the manifestation of an alternative homeland to happen on Jordanian soil without a fight, one that would likely spill over westward.
It is a move that no party wants to see happen except for a few rambling idiotic diplomats in Washington that have as much knowledge of the region as they do nuclear physics.
The king said what? To say that Jordan was, economically, better off before the peace treaty with Israel is a very strong statement. I applaud the king for admitting this piece of reality. We may have lost support from some old friends because of this peace treaty.
To say that Jordan is an alternative homeland for Palestinians is an unrealistic exaggeration. If for anything it is because Israel and the US know that drinking water in Jordan is very scarce. So, pumping money to accommodate two million Palestinians in Jordan is not enough for the success and the survival of the new alternative homeland. Nevertheless, if Palestinians want to move and live in Jordan we should accommodate them. I am against some Arab countries policies when they say if we give Palestinians non-Palestinian passports then we are helping Israel.
I am pretty confident that he referring to the trade between Jordan and the Palestinian territories. To suggest that he talking about the economy in general is to say that he is admitting that the policies of the last ten years made us in a worse position. Plus, a couple of weeks ago the king underlined the economic”achievements” and wagged his finger at those “pessimists” with a dark view of our “progress”.
On a side note, I am not sure that the assessment is true, at least at the macro-economic level. Upon sining the treaty Rabin lobbied the Clinton administration in an effort to forgive Jordan’s debt, something that Washington did. Plus don’t forget the US aid which has been flowing since the singing of the treaty, not to mention that it was king’s hussein’s rebirth ticket at the international level after the first gulf war. As such blaming the treaty for the economic situation is not a smart political statement, and again I am pretty sure the king was referring to the economic flow across the jordan river.
Plus, I find it interesting that most of the suggestions are simply hypothetical at best. The king needs to be more candid with regards to his “definition” of Jordanians when talking about an alternative homeland in Jordan. The actions of the Jordanian government,regardless of how “symbolic” they are,are undermining the stability of the country. The ambiguity surrounding this issue only adds to the undercurrent tensions within our beloved Jordan. But it is rather interesting that the king is now talking about a new exodus, and does not mention the word “refugees” or the phrase “right of return” even one time in his interview..Something to think about.
On the issue of tough language, don’t forget that such stance might not have “materialized” if it was not for the position of the american administration. For an outside observer, it might look like that the king was emboldened by the current crisis between the US and Israel. During the Bush years, and even at the end of his term when gaza was being bombed, the Jordanian stance was “not bold enough”-to use polite words. But then again it was olmert heading the israeli government. So maybe, the king, by making the “feud” with israel seem a personal one involving netenyahu and the extreme elements of his governments is trying to help the obama administration in their effort to push for a some sort of “coup” in israel.
On a side note: people need to realize that there is no incentive to pursue peace for the israelies, thus all this talk about peace is simply “Ø¶Ø±Ø§Ø· Ø¹Ù„Ø¨Ù„Ø§Ø·”. The status quo for israel is sustainable and for them there is no reason to give up anything. And just like peace on our side required the abolishment of democracy, it will require the same on the israeli side, something that will never happen.
My two piasters.
Forgive my typos and grammatical errors, I always forget to check before clicking submit..
Thank you mohanned lanak wafart 3alai kitabet kol hal 7akee … naseem ma iwaka3et inno nasmeh ibtakhdak o nasmeh bitjeebak bidon adna analysis of history or trends ….
How does the alternative homeland disrupt put an end to the country’s/governmentâ€™s decentralization plan for Jordanian governorates ? I am actually interested to know if there is some literature out there on this topic? or if some one can explain to me..thanks
I never understood this interview as having the king expressing any sort of “regret” on the treaty over the past 16 years. Neither did I think that the king meant to say that we could have been now better off had we not signed the treaty. To the contrary, I think Jordan’s economic benefits (i.e. increased aid, decreased debt) were considerable, and I don’t think the king is trying to say otherwise.
The whole point is, which I think I’d agree with, is that now, Jordan and Israel behave as if there is no peace treaty. i.e. currently, there are no *current* Jordanian benefits from the treaty with Israel. And that’s nothing to blame the treaty for, but instead current Israeli politics, chief upon whom is Bibi Netanyahu, who, to say the least, is spiraling the Middle East (politically) into a new low that we haven’t witnessed in a while.
” And at the same time we have continued provocations in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem specifically engages Jordan because we are the custodians of the Muslim and Christian holy places and this is a flashpoint that goes beyond Jordanian-Israeli relations. This is something that could ignite Muslim frustration and anger, which we do not need today. So there are elements that are playing with fire and so, this has been an uphill struggle for the past couple of months. And unfortunately, for the first time since my father made peace with Israel, our relationship with Israel is at an all bottom low. It hasnâ€™t been as bad as it is today and as tense as it is today.”
He is got to be kidding me, murdering Palestinians, starving them to death,stealing their sacred land, uprooting their 500 years olives trees, a whole sale slaughter in Gaza, 400 of them women and children, continuous ethnic cleansing of our Palestinian people by this racist, criminal and illegitimate entity, all that, according to the king, is called” provocations”
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@The Free Jordanian: I don’t think that’s the best attitude though; you really think being absolutely silent on Israeli action is better than criticizing it? Maybe he didn’t go as far as many would have hoped; but saying “Ø§Ù„Ø³ÙƒÙˆØª Ù…Ù† Ø°Ù‡Ø¨” as opposed to “Ø§Ù„ÙØ¹Ù„ Ù…Ù† Ø°Ù‡Ø¨”, is (in my opinion) counterproductive/wrong.
(And I don’t see “action” as a war, or breaking a treaty, but instead seeking more diplomacy, stronger pressure, consolidation of Arab views/actions, aid to palestine, etc.)
Eyas with all due respect,”t instead seeking more diplomacy, stronger pressure, consolidation of Arab views/actions, aid to palestine, etc., THAT HAS BEEN TRIED FOR MANY LONG YEARS AND aviosely DIDN’T WORK) ” KEEP ON DREAMING. and by the way, nobody in his or her mind is asking for war , all we are asking CANCEL THIS SURRENDER AND SHAMEFUL TREATY and END NORMALIZATIONS WITH THIS CRIMINAL RACIST AND ILLEGITIMATE ENTITY. THAT’S all, ANY RESPECTED LEADER MUST FOLLOW IN ORDER TO SEE REAL RESULTS ,. OTHERWISE, WE ARE WASTING PRECIOUS TIME. THANK YOU
@The Free Jordanian, I don’t think there has been enough consolidation of Arab views on everything. If there is a solution that actively pursues the breaking of peace or the rejection of it then I reject that solution. It’s all well and good to point out the illegitimacy of an entity, but I ask the question of how many entities survive in the world that are illegitimate, really, except no one designates them as such or gives a care to all the wrongdoings of theirs.
To say we are wasting precious time is not true, I don’t know what you want or what ultimate end canceling the peace treaty would have other than leading to the eventual grouping up of Jordan with the anti-israeli block of ‘evil’ in the middle east. Solving the Palestinian crisis is a long way from happening, but why exacerbate it with moves that are not strategically of any advantage?
“The Free Jordanian, I donâ€™t think there has been enough consolidation of Arab views on everything. If there is a solution that actively pursues the breaking of peace or the rejection of it then I reject that solution. Itâ€™s all well and good to point out the illegitimacy of an entity, but I ask the question of how many entities survive in the world that are illegitimate, really, except no one designates them as such or gives a care to all the wrongdoings of theirs.”
@R, Since you asked this question , let me name few entities that were thrown in the history dust Ben , Apartheid South Africa( was overthrown by boycott and divestment and mot even one bullet was fired), Italy’s Mussolini, Hitler’s Germany ,franko’s Spain,Shah’s Iran ,Tito’s Yugoslavia and just today Kirghistan’s government was overthrown by the poor of Kirghistan ,these are just the few entities i could think of right now.
And on the consolidation of Arab views,’ well , it depends who and whom views, if you mean Arab puppet leaders then that’s a whole different question and it needs a whole different answer ,but if you mean the Arab masses, then I say this , let us survey the Jordanians views, let alone the Arab streets, and I could assure you, overwhelming majority of Jordanians would vote in favor of annulling this defunct treaty that only brought more wars and destruction to our region from the Zionist entity, logic and laws tell us, you can not award a criminals by making peace with them but isolation, boycott and divestments as the case in Apartheid South Africa would be the most ideal and practical solution to end the state of wars and the racist entity.. Thank you
By the way Nas , I know it’s your blog , but i have to register my protest for deleting some of my comment. Thank you
Faris,, Here is one network that dares to discuss the so called Ù‡ÙˆØ§Ø¬Ø³ Ø¨Ù…Ø§ ÙŠØ³Ù…Ù‰ Ø§Ù„ÙˆØ·Ù† Ø§Ù„Ø¨Ø¯ÙŠÙ„
@mohanned: i agree with your analysis. well put.
@bambam: i didn’t intend to provide history or context, just a brief overlay of what was said.
@thefreejordanian: sorry but while i’m happy to host a debate, i don’t allow personal/offensive attacks on anyone: be they king, country or citizen. we can articulate our arguments, criticisms and objections without going in that direction.
Naseem: can you elaborate on alternative homeland and its relationship on decentralization in Jordan..I ask since i am an urban planner and it would be of great help to get my hands on some material..thanks
@Faris: at it’s heart, the decentralization program suggests that the country, instead of operating under one central authoritative body making all the decision, decentralizes the decision-making process by empowering various governorates, totaling 13 I believe (i can’t remember the most recent division, but the number is insignificant to the point). this plan was suggested several years ago, at the turn of the last decade, and it was met with fierce opposition, mainly from the tribal base, which felt that it was an attempt to decrease their influence and power over the central government, i.e. empowering them on a local level rather than a national level, something analysts believe to be the King’s plan as a way to clear the road for wider reforms that would ordinarily be met with too much opposition by that base.
so, with this in mind, when it was first suggested, the scarecrow that was used to crush it from being implemented was the “alternative homeland” and, at the time, rumors flew around claiming that this program was being suggested by the Israelis as a way for Jordan to extend its reach in to the west bank as another governorate of the kingdom. naturally this rumor (or perspective) caused so much flak from all parties that it was shelved until recently, where a different kind of approach to decentralization is being taken, and that is evidenced by towns like Aqaba and Madaba for instance, and will probably be more solidified if plans to hold regional elections go through.
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“there is no real economic relationship between Jordan and Israel, for Israeli businessmen to get into Jordan he takes a visa that day; it is almost impossible for a Jordanian businessmen to enter Israel”
Thanks to your post, it lead me to these pages
Post the agreement, our borders along the Jordan River have been relatively peaceful. I well remember when our side of the border was continually being used for forays into the occupied territories, and the reprisals wreaked by the Israelis on innocent Jordanian inhabitants in the Valley would be dreadful. Maybe it is wrong to try and protect your citizens when their brothers and cousins are being ill treated and abused, but I wonder if the people in the Ghor today would agree , as they go about their livelihoods in peace and security ? Not everyone one is that self sacrificing and altruistic, and it is easy to take the moral high ground from the safety of Amman or somesuch. Another “good” result of the Peace Treaty, for what it is worth, is that Jordan, through the Hashemite Charitable Organisation, was virtually the only country that could send supplies to Gaza throughout that miserable, criminal period in the winter of 2008/09, and still today. Maybe there are still some drops of water left in a glass that was half full, rather than half empty some years ago.
I believe that peace is a soft word to use…
“Peace, in international affairs, is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.” Ambrose Bierce
I do understand,the our aim after all is getting the best of what we can…
in my personal opinion,in the past few years,there was too much talk and too little action.
@The Free Jordanian: Well I don’t see any benefit in canceling the peace treaty. We also cannot handle the provocations Israelis might do if this happens(canceling the treaty technically means we are at war). Ultimately, we are a small modest country and cutting any relations would simply mean nothing.
As the king stated, the relationship is in a very bad shape anyway between Israel and Jordan so we can settle with this. I think Israelis want us to end it, a door that we do not want to open.
Plus we all know that every country has to consult its allies if it wants to pursue such actions. The USA will definitely reject anything remotely close to the idea of Jordan and Israel ditching all their political and peace relations.
More turbulence in the area is the last thing we need as opposed to peace.
Why you guys always think that canceling the surrender treaty. is cause for war, I think the opposite is true-
I haven’t checked out your website in a while, and I am glad to be back.
If you will let me weigh in on this from an Israeli perspective, I would like to repeat what I said in previous posts: yes, relations between Israel and Jordan have not been as friendly as either side would like it to be (to say the least) but at least there is no war and no one is killing each other.
I am not attempting to speak for call Israelis, but I can tell you that many Israelis are disgusted with Netanyahu and his cabinet, who have led to the lowest point in diplomatic relationships between Israeli and almost every country on the planet that was still talking to us.
I can only hope that President Obama will force Netanyahu to work out a peace agreement with the palestinians, stop the settlements and the destructions in East Jerusalem, but I think I may be overly optimistic – President Obama’s got plenty of problems at home, what with the fanatical right wings who are sabotaging his every move.
I believe HM when he says that a peace agreement will take away Iran’s claim to nuclear power, and can only hope the rest of the world hears it too.
What was the Netanyahu-Hussein relationship like? I know he had to fly to Amman at some point in 97 to apologize for the whole covert Mousad thing with Mishal.