Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Jordan and Palestine

by Elliott Abrams
October 16, 2012

Jordan's King Hussein (R) and Crown Prince Hassan pose for photographers at Amman airport February 11, 1996. (Courtesy REUTERS). Jordan's King Hussein (R) and Crown Prince Hassan pose for photographers at Amman airport February 11, 1996. (Courtesy REUTERS).


The relationship between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the West Bank, which it ruled from 1948 to 1967, remains in question despite the late King Hussein’s renunciation of all claims to the West Bank in an interesting address to the Jordanian people in 1988.  Here are excerpts:


Arab unity between any two or more countries is an option of any Arab people. This is what we believe. Accordingly, we responded to the wish of the Palestinian people’s representatives for unity with Jordan in 1950. From this premise, we respect the wish of the PLO, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, to secede from us as an independent Palestinian state. We say that while we fully understand the situation, nevertheless, Jordan will remain the proud bearer of the message of the Great Arab Revolt, adhering to its principles, believing in one Arab destiny, and committed to joint Arab action.

Regarding the political consideration, since the June 1967 aggression we have believed that our actions and efforts should be directed at liberating the land and the sanctities from Israeli occupation. Therefore, we have concentrated all our efforts over the past twenty-one years of occupation on that goal. We did not imagine that maintaining the legal and administrative relationship between the two banks could constitute an obstacle to liberating the occupied Palestinian land. Hence, in the past and before we took measures, we did not find anything requiring such measures, especially since our support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination was clear.

Lately, it has transpired that there is a general Palestinian and Arab orientation which believes in the need to highlight the Palestinian identity in full in all efforts and activities that are related to the Palestine question and its developments. It has also become clear that there is a general conviction that maintaining the legal and administrative links with the West Bank, and the ensuing Jordanian interaction with our Palestinian brothers under occupation through Jordanian institutions in the occupied territories, contradicts this orientation.

King Hussein’s argument suggests that if conditions were to change over time, and if the PLO were to change its view, the Jordanian role might also change.  (There is a separate argument that in any event the King’s decision is void as violating the Jordanian constitution.  Article 1 states “The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an independent sovereign Arab State. It is indivisible and inalienable and no part of it may be ceded.”

But neither Palestinian nor Jordanian leaders have spoken in public about a possible Jordanian role in the West Bank, and have often denounced any proposal for a link between the two as lending credibility to those Israelis who argue that “Jordan is Palestine.” King Abdullah, the reigning monarch, said this in 2010:

Jordan does not want any part of the West Bank. The only credible solution, is the two state solution. There is no Jordanian solution…. the Palestinians want their own state.”

In this context some October 9 remarks by Prince Hassan of Jordan, brother of the late King Hussein, are worth note.  Hassan is quoted in a MEMRI account of Jordanian press reports. The prince said that

“the West Bank is part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which included both banks of the [Jordan] River” and added that Hassan “did not personally oppose the two state solution, but that this solution is irrelevant at the current stage.” He later added that even if the two state solution does not materialize, there are other options. According to Hassan, “both sides, Arab and Israeli, no longer speak of a political solution to the Palestinian problem.” He implied that even the Oslo Accords had met their end, and said that Arab losses from the Accords are estimated at $12 billion. The report added: “The attendees understood that Prince [Hassan] is working to reunite both banks of the [Jordan] River, and commended him for it.”

Prince Hassan later added: “The unity that existed between the west and east banks for 17 years… was arguably one of the best attempts at unity that ever occurred in the Arab [world]… I hope that I do not live to see the day when Jordan, or the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, relinquishes the land occupied in 1967 by the IDF, since it would bring us all to witness the humiliating end….

It remains to be seen whether this was a statement the prince now regrets making, and one that will never be repeated, or something more. As he has no position in the Jordanian government, he is ideally situated to put ideas such as these in circulation without suggesting that the Government of Jordan or King Abdullah II agree with anything he is saying. Yet his statement will inevitably lead to discussion on both banks of the Jordan about the future relationships between them–political as well as economic.

Post a Comment 13 Comments

  • Posted by Rick James

    If the Hashemites think that they can control the West Bank and its Hamas contingent any better than their own, far more tepid Muslim Brotherhood faction, they really haven’t thought things through.

  • Posted by Cyndi

    May peace reign in the hearts of you all.. There are solutions to the west bank…businesses….bazzars…jobs…to grow the economy so everyone can take care of their families….tourism is key in this…the situation calms down….many more will come as tourists…but it needs to calm down so they will feel safe….is this not common sense? Jerusalem is a Holy city to millions ALL over the world…Instead of trying to scare people to run them off….DO BUSINESS…MAKE MONEY…LET THEM SHOP… make peace fill your pockets…

  • Posted by wakhori

    typical elliot abrams who keeps trying and trying to rob palestinians of their rights to freedom and dignity. even outside the government he remains a menace

  • Posted by Pan American

    It’s scary to think of ‘Pan-Arab’ nationalism, but it’s no surprise in light of the Israeli version.
    What a shame that a natural rivalry between brothers, Jewish and Islamic- with a minor messianic difference that can be resolved over 225 years- has descended to this.
    Without Torah, it’s Hebrews vs. Canaanites again, but this time Israel is outnumbered and, potentially, out-organized.

  • Posted by Pan American

    (drastically outnumbered)

  • Posted by Steve

    Hassan dreams of the West Bank, Iraq Syria and Gaza too. He dreams of his grandfather. He dreams of Hashemite Arabia to offset Saudi Arabia. He dreams but his nephew just wants to keep the little kingdom he has and his family alive. Easy to dream, hard to actually rule. This is meaningless.

  • Posted by Elana Eilon

    It is about time the situation was resolved peacefully. Jordan, please take back the West Bank absorb the Palestinians into Jordan, give them full rights as citizens of Jordan. Sign a treaty with Israel that it gives up the West Bank and Gaza. All the Palestinians who do not accept the existence of the State of Israel will be very happy to be part of the honourable and noble Hashemite kingdom. The King’s late father, may he rest in peace was a friend of Israels and was repected and admired by the Israeli people for his humanity and kindness. The Palestinians do not want peace with Israel, they would now have an alternative – peace in Jordan!!!

  • Posted by Elana

    In reply to Cyndi. May peace reign in the hearts of you all-Amen. So many Israelis and Palestinians agree with you, The people can make peace – all the promises made especially during election time, is just talk and no leader keeps any promise for a better life for his people whether they are Arab or Jewish. With peace would come investments, tourism, wealth and security. Where are the people on both sides who protest for peace? There are many protesting in the streets for war and killing, but we don’t get together for peace. Jerusalem is a Holy city for all faiths and for millions ALL over the world. You are right, the Politicians with their threats of nuclear war scare us into voting for them telling us that only “they” Netanyahu can keep us safe while lying to us. We, you and I can make peace!!!

  • Posted by M.B.

    Since he lost his crown prince job in 1999, Hassan has frequently spoken out of school. It’s an attention seeking ploy. He talks too much and suffers from foot in mouth disease.

  • Posted by O.W.

    To Cyndi and Elana: Bravo! Ancient groundless hatred and resultant conflict are destructive. Unity and common sense, directed at logical common goals, can be productive of not just joy and tranquility–but of physical and financial well-being as well.
    I’ve been attempting to convey this concept via my Google offerings, called Towardanewtomorrow, for a long time. Hopefully ideas like this will come to fruition before it’s too late.

  • Posted by diana

    I agree w/Elana. Let the parts of the West Bank were Palestinian live go back to Jordan and let there continue being peace with Jordan. And let Gaza flourish under Egytptian rule or independently………………….but Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel where EVERY religion is respected………….

  • Posted by Basim Zacharia

    How about an open and free referendum in Egypt and the Gaza Strip of uniting the two Islamist countries ?

    That should solve half of the Israel/Palestine problem.

    Later, the same should be offered to the West Bank.

    Israel will then deal with only one state, Egypt.

  • Posted by Pat K

    Great idea, Basim !

    The bottom line is Israel will finally have a lasing peace with the Palestinians, er Greater Egypt !

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