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Will Jordan pay the price?

November 19, 2023 at 4:33 pm

Hundreds of demonstrators carry placards with the words ‘America is the head of terrorism’ and Palestinian flags during a solidarity protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza, in downtown Amman, Jordan, on November 17, 2023 [ANNIE SAKKAB/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images]

Obviously, there is a huge escalation and a big increase in the tension between Amman and Tel Aviv. We would not be exaggerating, or straying away from the truth, if we were to describe them as the fierce diplomatic war Jordan is having in confrontation with Israel along several fronts: the United Nations, the Arab League, communications, influencing the positions of the European states in general and the reciprocal pressures exerted by both sides on the US decision-making lobbies.

This Jordanian position, which happens to enjoy a massive popular support, as well as the support of the circles of politicians and various elites, and is met with noticeable comfort at the levels of both Jordanian and Palestinian streets, arouses the concern of a certain trend of conservative Jordanian politicians. This trend has begun to whisper and, finally, express its anxiety over the danger of a Jordanian escalation and a Jordanian challenge to Israel. They are of the opinion that Jordan should be cautious and wary of sliding in the direction of a confrontation that is well beyond its own potentials with Israel, the US Administration and several Arabs states that have interior motives (that contradict what’s usually said in public). This “elite” recalls the Jordanian isolation in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war, when Jordan found itself shunned by other Arab states, and paid the cost of Saddam Hussein’s defeat at more than one level. Consequently, it would wrong, from the point of view of this trend for Jordan to place its cards in the basket of the war on Gaza and end up outside the framework of the “Victors” calculations (assuming that victory is already decided in favor of one party over the other), and will, hence, end up incurring many other costs.

READ: Jordan’s King rejects any Israeli plan to occupy parts of Gaza

The fear of this elite from an escalation in the exchanged statements, starting with the speech by King Abdullah II in Cairo for peace, the two interviews given by Queen Rania to CNN, and more specifically the open media and diplomatic war that is led by foreign minister Ayman Al-Safadi in confrontation with the Israeli war. Add to all this the responses Israel has been declaring against Jordan, the most recent of which is what former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Benet said in response to what Al-Safadi said regarding Amman’s decision not to sign the water and energy agreement with Israel. The conservative trend is anxious that Al-Safadi might just go far, especially that he’s become a big star within popular circles, in his confrontation with the Israelis. Yet, they acknowledge that he would not be doing this hadn’t he had a green light from the King.

I have asked a senior official right at the core of decision making about his opinion regarding these anxieties and fears of the assumed costs, and whether Jordan was indeed engaged in a major political adventure and risks embroiling itself in a conflict with Israel. Initially, he ruled out any similarities with the 1991 war because the circumstances and the contexts are different and distant, and because the right-wing government in Israel is today facing a rise in global wrath, while international positions are divided, not to mention that Netanyahu’s future has already been decidedly determined. In other words, the international and regional stances are very much unlike what they used to be during that phase.

Above all, according to my interlocutor, the Jordanian position is not based on emotional standards or instantaneous calculations. Rather, it is linked to dangerous and disturbing indicators in Israel’s agenda toward Jordan and to the absolute religious Zionist hegemony, which sees “transfer” as the sole solution to the Israeli strategic predicament in dealing with the Palestinian demographic problem. Hence is its endeavor to implement its religious myths related to the domination of the entire Palestinian land. So, Jordan is dealing with new and dangerous facts and with a threat that has begun to take a radical and strategic aspect when it comes to its national security and even to domestic civic peace in the shadow of a blatant Arab strategic void.

READ: King of Jordan says situation in Gaza result of more than 7 decades of Israeli mentality

Therefore, irrespective of any Jordanian political disagreements with the Hamas movement, and irrespective of their domestic reflections on the relationship with the Islamic opposition, there today a bigger danger and a bigger threat. These are represented by the Israeli project, which while carrying its operations inside Gaza, its eye is on the West Bank, just as was the case during the 1967 war, when Israel viewed the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank as the big prize of the war, because they constitute the backbone of the Biblical promises and the Jewish religious and nationalist considerations. Consequently, sooner or later, with the collapse of the peace camp, and the sharp decline in the influence of the secularists in recent decades, thinking about the price Jordan will have to pay is supposed to surpass just traditional fears. It should view the general framework of the scene. The question is: what would be the bigger price to pay? Would it be conforming with the right-wing Israeli agenda or standing in opposition to these objectives that view Jordan as nothing but the Palestinian alternative homeland?

Translated from Al Araby, 19 November 2023

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.