The recent Israeli “military order” for the deportation of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank is an extremely worrying development for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This so-called “transfer” not only undermines Palestinians’ legitimate rights but also places a massive political, economic and social burden on the small kingdom.
It is understandable, therefore, to hear the spokesman for the Jordanian cabinet condemn the Israeli move. Mr. Nabil El-Sherif, a Minister of State in the kingdom, said, “Jordan will resist Israel’s plan by every possible legal, political and diplomatic means.”
It is not known if Jordan’s King Abdullah II raised the issue with President Barack Obama during his official visit to Washington last week. However, it is well known that in a previous visit to the US in 2002, prior to the US invasion of Iraq, the King received a pledge from former President George W Bush that the US would not allow Israel’s then Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to exploit the war with Iraq by displacing Palestinians from their homeland.
The current right-wing Israeli government opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and, ideologically, considers Jordan to be the alternative homeland for the Palestinians. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that this military order is the latest stage in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that started in 1948, clearing the land to make way for even more Jewish colonial-settlers. This is obviously a far more sinister development than it might at first appear.
Jordanian-Israeli relations are very tense these days, primarily due to Israel’s Judaization of occupied East Jerusalem. The Israelis have also prevented a group of Jordanian experts from restoring the corridor leading to the Maghrabi Gate, a move that contravenes agreements signed between the two countries.
Jordan’s government summoned the Israeli ambassador to the Foreign Ministry and informed him in no uncertain terms of the objections to the military order and Judaization process. This is, however, a much lower-level response than what would be expected given the nature of Israel’s provocative policies.
By deporting Palestinians from their own land, the Israelis are promoting the notion that Jordan and Palestine are one and the same, and that the Hashemite Kingdom is a surrogate state for the latter. This concept must be challenged by all means possible because, quite simply, if the deportations proceed Israel is effectively declaring war on Jordan, undermining its sovereignty and national identity by forcing the demography of the state to change. This is clearly in breach of the Treaty of Wadi Araba which governs relations between the two states.
Jordan’s late King Hussein Bin Talal threatened to cancel this Treaty in the mid-nineties if the Israeli government did not provide an antidote to the poison used by Mossad agents in the attempted assassination of Khaled Meshaal, the head of the political beau rue of Hamas when he was in Amman. The Israeli government not only sent the antidote but also released from custody the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas. The proposed deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians is a much more serious issue than that assassination attempt, because it is an attempt to assassinate an entire people. The response must be of a matching degree of severity.