Apparently the king of Jordan has rejected the request for a meeting by Prime Minister Netanyahu. This comes on the heels of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s unilateral decision to withdraw from all agreements and cooperative activity between his Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Concurrently, Israelis are now being harassed during visits to Jordan. They are being subjected to strip searches and confiscation of religious garments. Most recently they have been barred from the Tomb of Aaron, a holy site for Jews under the control of the notoriously antisemitic Jordanian WAQF which also controls and coordinates the ‘spontaneous’ rioting on and surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
There is no justification for Israel and Israelis allowing themselves to be subjected to such unilateral humiliation. This is especially true regarding King Abdullah whose precarious throne and parlous economy are largely propped up by Israel and the United States.
Abdullah, who is of Bedouin descent, can barely speak Arabic, and has almost nothing in common with his subjects, most of whom are Palestinian Arabs who detest him. Culturally he is British, having been raised and educated in the UK where he spends much of his time at a safe distance from the percolating hostility that bubbles in his little kingdom. He has a penchant for bespoke British uniforms festooned with medals for … well for what exactly no one knows.
The Kingdom of Jordan was, a priori, a 20th century British invention concocted to undercut the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations mandate for creating a Jewish homeland in all of Palestine. By lopping off three-fifths of the landmass that comprises Eretz Israel and handing it to an obscure Bedouin tribe, Great Britain caused grievous harm to the Zionist enterprise and nearly succeeded in torpedoing the establishment of a Jewish state. In this effort it not only barred Jews from entering their own land, consigning them instead to the chimneys of Auschwitz, but it also armed and trained the Arab Legion, Jordan’s armed forces, with the expectation that it would defeat any attempt by the Jews to declare a viable state on the sliver that remained for that purpose.
The British flip-flop regarding a Jewish homeland backfired when Israel successfully repelled the vastly better armed Arab Legion along with their Arab allies from Iraq, Syria and Egypt during the 1948 War of Independence.
What remained of Jewishly un-occupied Palestine fell under internationally recognized Jordanian rule. Effectively there was a Palestinian country that included all of the East Bank of the Jordan River as well as the West Bank/Judea and Samaria plus East Jerusalem.
No one challenged this arrangement, least of all the Palestinian Arabs. They accepted with equanimity the yoke of minority Bedouin rule either out of indifference (there had never been a Palestinian national movement) or out of fear. The Jordanian secret police, then as now, were ruthless. No one would dare voice any opposition to the monarchy.
In 1967, Israel succeeded in wresting Judea and Samaria as well as East Jerusalem from the Jordanians. King Hussein understood that it would not serve his interests to demand the return of this real estate as he had no loyal subjects, (i.e., from his Bedouin tribe) anywhere on the West Bank and there was no love lost between the local Palestinian Arabs and their Bedouin overlords.
It was only then that a serious Palestinian national movement began to emerge in the form of active terrorism on the part of the PLO under Yasser Arafat with Abu Mazen, who had earned his PhD in Holocaust denial, as his deputy.
Israel put a stop to Arafat’s terrorism by invading Lebanon, where he was ensconced, and banishing him and his and his cronies to Tunisia. This enabled both Israel and the Arabs west of the Jordan River to forge a state of reasonable calm for the benefit of all concerned. There were no barriers, almost no check points, and Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza were free to find gainful employment in Israel proper, and to enjoy Israel’s beaches and attractions.
The improvement in the health, welfare, sanitation, longevity and personal wealth among local Arabs was dramatic, to the degree that visibly – except for the attire of Muslim women – there was little to distinguish them from Israelis. Indeed the life expectancy for Israelis and Arabs under Israeli sovereignty is both high and identical. For the Arabs, this was unthinkable prior to 1967.
Those halcyon days came to a crashing halt when Shimon Peres and his coterie of acolytes – with the help of some very well-heeled liberal American Jews – made the nationally suicidal decision to invite Arafat, an Egyptian native, and his cronies to settle on the West Bank with a view to creating a Palestinian State on large chunks of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Peres had delusions of grandeur. He craved international adoration and fancied himself a visionary. He saw a fata morgana of huge business opportunities for his American mogul friends – and no doubt for himself as well – in the fruition of the Oslo accords. This was the textbook case of the tortoise giving the scorpion a free ride.
The ensuing reign of terror unleashed by the PLO, newly transplanted into Judean and Samarian soil, resulted in the deaths of thousands and the need for Israel to build barriers and cauterize the free-flow of Arab labor.
As much as Israel suffered as a result, the Arabs suffered even more. Access to jobs became challenging, if not impossible, as well as access to the Israeli market for Arab goods.
In Gaza, the extreme Islamist terror organization Hamas took over. It ruled the Strip with an iron fist, allocating every very dollar of humanitarian aid its leaders did not steal for themselves to the purpose of arming itself to the teeth, and building attack tunnels into Israel.
On the West Bank, Abu Mazen and his extended family turned the Palestinian Authority into a personal feeding frenzy whereby he alone has accumulated as estimated net worth of $100 million (and is a mere pauper compared to his sons) even as the local population is hard pressed to put food on the table, and unemployment is rampant. The leaders of Hamas are no less successful, having managed to accumulate staggering personal fortunes from the gifts of Western nations and the draconian taxes they impose on the impoverished masses sizzling in the Gazan heat, freezing in its winters, and deprived of basic services and clean water.
The fraternal hatred between the PA and Hamas masks the reality that both groups dream of the utter destruction of Israel. Hamas, to its credit, is honest enough to state this in its charter, while the PA/PLO resorts to the more traditional forked tongue that says one thing in English and quite another in Arabic.
None of this is new, of course. What is new is the current and barely disguised intrigue brewing between Abu Mazen and King Abdullah – the apple that has fallen very far from the tree.
King Abdullah is acutely aware that he is sitting on a barrel of explosives with a lit fuse. He knows he is hated by a Palestinian majority that carries Jordanian passports, and is hated no less by Mahmoud Abbas and his PLO thugs. Both Abbas and Abdullah know that a Palestinian coup in Jordan is only a mater of when. Yet for both there is a shared interest in preventing that revolution from taking place for the foreseeable future.
For King Abdullah, the longer he can forestall his own decapitation the more time he has to park his fortune overseas and set his family up for a very comfortable and very permanent exile. He surely envies the vastly greater kleptocratically amassed fortunes of the Hamas and PA leadership, and does not want to flee with his pockets any less lined than those of his doomsday planners.
Yet, for the time being, these two natural arch-enemies have cobbled together a temporary accommodation as this serves both their interests.
For Abdullah, it buys time to fatten his wallet before fleeing. For Abu Mazen, it helps keep the lid on the formation of a Palestinian state in Jordan. Such a state would easily spell the kiss of death to his extended hamoula of murderers, and the end to any hope for a Palestinian state on the West Bank. After all, once there is a Palestinian state occupying a significant majority of historic Palestine, the terror organizations and their political fronts will be hard put to justify the need for a second Palestinian state on the West Bank and a third one in Gaza. Indeed, Palestinian sovereignty over a former Kingdom of Jordan would be the kiss of death to an industry of extortion that has done so well for the bandits controlling Palestinian life west of the Jordan River.
Having rejected numerous very generous Israeli offers for peace, one has to wonder whether The PA really wants peace. The status quo serves them brilliantly. Instead of investing in statecraft they can continue to sponge handsomely off global largesse, stealing the lion’s share for themselves and spreading remaining crumbs among the hoi polloi. Clearly there is nothing in it for them to establish an actual Palestinian state.
Likewise, the establishment of a separate Palestinian nation-state on the East Bank will not only thwart any hope of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, but will turn off the money spigot from Europe and the US. The feeding frenzy will be over for them.
Hence it is in the shared interests of both Abu Mazen and King Abdullah to work together against Israel despite their mutual loathing. This is their only hope, respectively, of staying alive. For the time being at least.