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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Some Jordanians still claim the West Bank as theirs

MEMRI reports:
In a meeting with Palestinian citizens in Jordan, Prince Hassan bin Talal, Jordanian crown prince between 1965 and 1999, made an unusual statement, saying that the territories of the West Bank are actually part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The Jordanian website Almustaqbal-a.com reported that the speech by the Jordanian prince took place at an October 9 meeting with Palestinians from Nablus, members of the Ebal charity organization. The meeting was organized by Jordanian Senate President Taher Al-Masri, who is himself a Palestinian from Nablus. During his speech, Prince Hassan said that he intends to visit other organizations in Jordan that represent West Bank residents.

The report stated that "Prince Hassan stressed 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."[2] 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... These lands, which were occupied as part of the 1967 lands, including East Jerusalem, were promised to us, and nowadays we speak of them as Area C..."

Prince Hassan tried to clarify his statements and said that in terms of sovereignty and law, the West Bank was occupied by Jordan in 1948, and that everyone, including the Palestinians, agrees that Jordanian law is the basis for the demand to reclaim them from Israel. However, he added, Jordan ceased negotiating for these lands with Israel following a request by the Palestinian Authority. Hassan said: "If, God forbid, we were to recognize the Jordan River as a border with Israel, then every element hostile to Jordan – and there are many – could claim that Jordan has failed in its demand [to restore] Arab rights."
Perhaps more significant, a number of Jordanian media outlets published Saturday a lengthy article about Jordan's legal rights to the West Bank. Some Jordanians, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, are claiming that King Hussein's 1988 declaration cutting off the West Bank from Jordan (and revoking Jordanian citizenship from West Bank Palestinian Arabs) was illegal.

After the PLO was recognized by the UN and even the West as the "sole representative of the Palestinian people," Hussein relented and "disengaged" from the West Bank, taking away citizenship from them "not to give Israel the opportunity to drive them across the bridges and use their land for the benefit of the settlers." But the pressure to do so came from Arafat and the Arab League, according to the article.

Mamoun Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian National Council member who lives in Amman, says that the 1988 decision was flawed and should not have been done while Israel still was physically in the West Bank. He notes that "the consequences were serious for the Palestinian people, as it caused migration of thousands to Europe and Canada to become citizens there after they were deprived of Jordanian nationality, and so it does not contribute to the permanency of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, but reduces them."

Zaki Bani Irsheid, Deputy Comptroller General of the Muslim Brotherhood, says the position of the Islamic movement said "we must differentiate between the Palestinian Authority on the one hand, and the struggle for identity and Palestinian statehood. The PA created by the Oslo agreement came to save the Zionist entity's security and achieve the purpose of the President to abort the Palestinian militant project, which includes the Liberation of Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The rejection of disengagement is not a rejection on the basis of who governs the West Bank, but on the basis of unity and cohesion." (The Muslim Brotherhood regards all Arab territories as part of a great Muslim Ummah, and wants to erase the boundaries to recreate a caliphate.)

Dr. Asad Rahman, a researcher of Palestinian affairs, said "The decision [to disengage] was from the first moment a divisive issue in the emotions and opinions, and still is today. Some say that the decision is unconstitutional under Jordanian law... but the silent majority was against the resolution. Some say that the decision came without basis in any reference in the political entity of Jordan, but actually came just like the decision which granted Jordanian citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank in April 1950, meaning that both resolutions came without parliamentary or legal justification."

Hopefully MEMRI will translate the entire article, because while it discusses many different viewpoints it upends the conventional wisdom that all Jordanians supported King Hussein's decision.

Which means that the idea of a confederation between Jordan and the Palestinian Arabs on the west bank of the river is not as far fetched as many say it is. Obviously the intent of all the people interviewed is to take as much territory out of Jewish control as possible, and the failure of the PLO to do so is what seems to be the incentive behind this new set of articles.