Wednesday, September 21, 2011

‘Jordan Is Not And Will Not Be An Alternative Homeland’

By Hasan Abu Nimah
His Majesty King Abdullah addresses the IBM Centennial ‘THINK’ Forum in New York on Tuesday  (Photo by Yousef Allan)
 King Abdullah addresses the IBM Centennial ‘THINK’ Forum in New York on Tuesday (Photo by Yousef Allan)
King Abdullah’s warning less than two weeks ago that no other power has either the right or the ability to determine the destiny of our country was not the first of its kind. The King had repeatedly admonished Jordanian writers and journalists for their continued exaggeration of the imagined threat of resolving the question of Palestine at Jordan’s expense.
Frequent expressions of panic that there are foreign powers’ plans to transform the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan into a Palestinian state by dumping more Palestinians into the Kingdom play well into the hands of the Israelis who have been steadily nurturing such ideas.
Over the years, in their frenzied efforts to deny the Palestinians their inalienable rights to self-determination and statehood on their original homeland in Palestine, many Israeli leaders have earmarked Jordan as the “alternative Palestinian homeland”.
This confrontational Israeli line, however, denies basic territorial realities as well as other significant political inevitabilities in the area. One is that neither the Jordanian nor the Palestinian peoples’ intrinsic national and political rights can be taken for granted by any other ruthless party, no matter how strong or influential that party can be. The Jordanians, all Jordanians including those of Palestinian origin, will not sit idle in the face of any such callous schemes. If the need arises, they all will successfully, as they proved in the past, defend the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the independence of their land against any ambitious aggressor.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, despite the poor performance of the Palestinian Authority, have not given up on their original homeland in Palestine, where they lived for thousands of years until pushed out by blatant aggression and international conspiracy, to start looking for resettlement elsewhere. They will not accept any alternative to their natural home even if such a place would readily be offered.
Their legitimate struggle for independence and statehood is fundamentally and specifically linked to where they belong: the land from which they were illegally and brutally thrown away. In their determined pursuit of this goal, the Palestinians have also been guaranteed continued and unlimited backing from the Hashemite Kingdom and its people. The reality is that there is infinite concord, as well as clarity, between the two sides as to what shape and form the anticipated settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict should eventually take.
These facts, often missing in the debate on this issue, render the Israeli logic not only absurd, self-defeating, legally baseless, politically hostile, it also reveals Israeli malicious intent towards a country with which it had signed a peace treaty 17 years ago, but practically did not really accomplish it as well.
Israel harboured, and still does, many aggressive plans in other neighbouring Arab countries, but it has no means to implement any more of its expansionist schemes. Actually, under the developing circumstances, what lies ahead for isolated Israel is only regression and retreat.
Panic, therefore, should be felt by Israel, and that explains the strong words of the King, lashing at Israel while addressing a group of Jordanian academics and concerned personalities earlier this month in Amman.
King Abdullah said: “Jordan and the future Palestine are stronger than Israel is today. It is the Israeli who is scared today.”
Referring to a conversation he had in the US with an Israeli intellectual who believed that developing events in the Arab world were good for Israel, King Abdullah’s reply was that “it was the opposite and that Israel’s situation today is more difficult than ever before”.
While asserting the ultimate need for protecting Jordanian national unity in a “country for all its citizens regardless of their origins”, King Abdullah reaffirmed that “Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine”, adding: “We support all Palestinian rights and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state - our policy hasn’t changed. The subject of an alternative homeland must not be part of the discussion. It is unacceptable.”
He added: “I have never heard from any senior American official - whether Bush, Clinton or Obama - any pressure on Jordan that the Palestinian solution should come at its expense.”
The king’s message is clear. While as committed Jordanian citizens we should regularly monitor such sinister Israeli provocations, expose their deceptiveness and combat them with all available effective means, we should not, on the other hand, watch such Israeli disguised hostility as passive, helpless receivers. Our response should always reflect the King’s resolve, and indeed confidence in our ability to physically render any such schemes utterly meaningless. As long as we act in such a decisive and uncompromising manner, the Israelis may entertain as much distraction and wishful thinking as they may like.
Let me recall here two related historic episodes. The first occurred in the aftermath of the 1967 war that led to the occupation by Israel of the Jordanian West Bank, including Jerusalem, Egyptian Sinai, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights. After the ceasefire, Israel started the unusual practice of deporting unwanted persons from the newly occupied territories across the new front lines into neighbouring Arab countries, including Jordan. Only after some undue delay Jordan cautioned Israel against the illegality of such practice. By deciding to use Jordan as a place to exile deportees, Israel was committing a serious breach of the sovereignty of a neighbouring country. What stopped Israel in the end was not its concern with the illegality of its behaviour; that has never been a discouraging factor. Israel’s practice was stopped, once and for all, by drastic preventive Jordanian action.
The second episode followed the signing of the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty in October 1994. The official local media rushed at the time to count, with visible exaggeration, the benefits of the treaty on all aspects of life in the country, and that could have been understood as “peace dividends” at the time. What was not understandable, though, was the specific emphasis on the treaty’s role in burying the notion of the “alternative homeland”, as well as in recognising Jordan’s western border. Both inferences, offering Israel undue credit, were utterly wrong. Both inferences implied that it was Jordan, not Israel, that needed recognition and that was utterly wrong, too.
The Jordanian western border is an international border that existed long before Israel was created. It was the border separating East Jordan from Palestine under the British mandate, and it was in no need for recognition, least of all from an occupying aggressor.
The unwarranted rejoicing, on the other hand, over the alleged treaty’s role in burying the “alternative homeland” notion also implied that the existence of Jordan as an independent, sovereign state and a full-fledged member of the United Nations was uncertain until blessed with assured recognition by the treaty with Israel. That was ludicrously undermining.
Seventeen years have lapsed since the signing of the peace treaty, yet there is hardly any change in Israel’s behaviour. As recent as last week, prominent Israeli Likud member Uzi Dayan informed a conference at the International Institute of Counter-Terrorism that “the best thing is a Palestinian Hashemite Kingdom headed by the king of Jordan with its capital in Amman”.
This commentary was published in The Jordan Times on 21/09/2011

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