Friday, February 07, 2020


With the unveiling of Trump's "Deal of the Century," many analyses and critiques have come out, and will continue to come out, focusing both on what Israel gets -- and on what the Palestinian Arabs do not.

In making the case for his peace plan, Trump points to 2 successful peace agreements that Israel has with its neighbors. These are supposed to be models for what is possible:
The State of Israel has made peace with two of its neighbors. It made peace with the Arab Republic of Egypt in 1979 and it made peace with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1994, two countries with which the State of Israel had fought multiple wars and numerous border skirmishes...These two peace agreements, now 40 and 25 years old, have endured and bettered the lives of citizens in Israel, Jordan and Egypt. ("Peace to Prosperity," p. 2)
Israel's peace with Egypt has long been recognized as a "cold peace," yet there have been examples of cooperation, especially in terms of security in the Sinai. There is also the gas pipeline deal, which includes the cooperation of both Egypt and Jordan -- with Israel.

Then there is Jordan.

In criticizing the Palestinian Authority, Trump's plan describes the Palestinian Authority as
"plagued by failed institutions and endemic corruption. Its laws incentivize terrorism and Palestinian Authority controlled media and schools promote a culture of incitement." (p. 4)
But this is also a pretty accurate description of Jordan as well -- especially the part about terrorism.

In 1994 Mohammad Abequa murdered his wife in New Jersey but then escaped to Jordan. President Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno and New Jersey's US representatives and senators pleaded with King Hussein for Abequa to be returned to the US for trial. Jordan refused because there was no extradition treaty between the 2 countries. Jordan did, however, agree to put Abequa on trial -- and he was found guilty of murder. He could have been sentenced to death, but instead, Abequa was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Just 5 years later, he was released, based on Abequa's claim that he killed his wife to protect his honor.

This was not a terrorist act, but the reaction of the Jordanian government to the murder of Americans by Jordanians have not always been helpful.

In 1993, a Jordanian national, Eyad Ismoil, participated in the World Trade Center bombing. Afterwards, he fled to Jordan to evade capture. In 1995, the US and Jordan signed an extradition treaty that made it possible to return Ismoil to the US.

In November 2015, a Jordanian police officer killed 5 people, including 2 Americans at an Amman training compound. The motive was unclear, and since the attacker was killed, the reason for the attack was never revealed.

Perhaps because the incident passed without wide media attention, when another Jordanian killed US soldiers the following November, there was wider coverage. On November 4, 2016, a Jordanian soldier fired on 3 US soldiers as they were entering a Jordanian military base, killing three. The shooter was wounded. The Jordanian government was desperate to avoid responsibility:
o  First the Jordanian government claimed that the US soldiers had failed to stop at the gate
o  When the video disproved that, the Jordanians claimed that there had been an “accidental discharge” by one of the soldiers.
o  When that was disproven, the Jordanians claimed there had been a loud noise.
Eventually, a Jordanian court found the soldier guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The request by the parents of the 3 US soldiers that the killer be extradited to the US was refused.

Speaking of extradition, there is, of course, the attempt by the US to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, the self-confessed mastermind of the Sbarro Massacre, in which US citizens were killed. Jordan claims the extradition treaty, which was valid enough for Jordan to hand over Ismoil, is not valid enough to hand over Tamimi.

That is consistent with Jordan's refusal last year to honor their extradition treaty with France to hand over for trial the man suspected of being behind the 1982 attack at Chez Jo Goldenberg, a kosher restaurant in the traditionally Jewish Marais district of Paris.

But Jordan did not care about there being an extradition treaty in 1999, when the French terrorism magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguière, was able to persuade Jordan to arrest and extradite Fateh Kamel on charges of abetting terrorism on French soil -- before France even had an extradition treaty with Jordan.

Last month, I pointed out that when it signed onto the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, Jordan made it clear that Jordan is not opposed to all forms of terrorism:
The Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan does not consider acts of national armed struggle and fighting foreign occupation in the exercise of people’s right to self-determination as terrorist acts
This is an ally against terrorism?
This is an anchor for a Mideast peace?

Jordan's approach to terrorism was apparent in 1997 in the Island of Peace massacre, when 80 7th and 8th-graders from Beit Shemesh went on a field trip to the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights. They went to an area of Israeli land between the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers. The area was returned to Jordan as part of the Israel-Jordan peace deal in 1994, but was leased back.

A Jordanian soldier, Ahmed al-Daqamse, started shooting at the schoolgirls, killing 7, before was stopped when his rifle jammed. He was put and trial and sentenced to life in prison.

The New York Times reported at the time:
According to reports from Amman, the Jordanian capital, most Jordanians expressed dismay at the shooting. There were also reports that hundreds of soldiers lined up to give blood at the hospital where the girls were taken.
King Hussein himself a personal visit to offer his condolences to the families.

But fast-forward to 2011 and a Jordan minister called for the soldier's release.

According to the Times of Israel, the military court determined that the Jordanian soldier was mentally unstable and while life in prison in Jordan normally means 25 years, he was released in 2017, after 20 years.

When he was released, al-Daqamse got a hero's welcome, just as Ahlam Tamimi did.

Footage shot early on Sunday, a day before the 20th anniversary of the massacre, showed Daqamseh being driven slowly through crowds chanting and clapping to show their support.

Jordan’s Roya television channel broadcast footage of him held aloft by a crowd in his home town of Irbid in northern Jordan, next to a poster describing him as a "hero".
It is not so surprising then that on October 26, 2019, the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, Times of Israel reported there was no commemoration.

In October 2018 Jordan announced it would not renew an annex of the treaty that had allowed Israelis to visit and Israeli farmers to use 2 plots of land along the border.

Bottom line:
Security and intelligence cooperation remain strong, but even bilateral trade is now declining
Hardly the model for peace that Trump claims.

According to Trump's peace plan:
It is important that governments unambiguously condemn all forms of terrorism, and that governments work together to fight against global terrorism. (p. 8)
If Trump seriously believes that Jordan is one of those governments --  good luck with that.




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