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King Abdullah’s powerful leadership

Jun 04,2019 - Last updated at Jun 04,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah recently reaffirmed, in no uncertain terms, his and his country’s unwavering position with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Never did the Jordanian Monarch mount a pulpit without placing the Palestinian cause at the top of his priorities; without restating the rightful and the legal principles upon which the conflict should peacefully be settled, and without asserting that the entire Middle East region would never enjoy any peace or political stability so long as this historic conflict remains unresolved.

This has been an uninterrupted pattern since King Abdullah ascended the Jordanian throne twenty years ago. But the developments last week were of specific prominence.

Sceptics, as well as concerned observers, have been expressing doubt as to whether Jordan would be able to stand up to pressures from indispensable allies pushing for the so-called “deal of the century”: the US plan to liquidate the question of Palestine by simply closing the file as is, granting Israel recognition of all its illegal territorial war gains, pardoning Israel of all its crimes against the Palestinians and the other Arab neighbours and entirely abolishing Palestinian rights.

Bewildered sceptics and concerned observers, at home and abroad, could never have imagined that Jordan would take the huge risk of opposing the new American biased-in-favour of Israel peace plan, however detached from the internationally approved principles for settling the century-old conflict. 

The risks for Jordan are, indeed, huge. The critical economic situation in Jordan as a result of regional wars and the massive influx of refugees in the country relies heavily on regular US financial and political support. And Jordan is traditionally keen on protecting its excellent relations with Arab Gulf allies, including those who are thought to be supporting the US “deal of the century”.

But Jordan and its Kings have always been known to be traditionally and strictly loyal to their principles, even if risks are involved. They always placed the dignity of their country and its people, commitment to their international obligations, concern for peace and security in the region and beyond, support for people who legally struggle for their legitimate rights and strict abidance by the provisions of international law, ahead of any national interests no matter how vital.

There are many examples from the recent past that attest to this. But King Abdullah’s courageous and consistent adherence to the most uncompromising principles have stunned sceptics, and brought upon him great respect and admiration worldwide.

The King’s unyielding position opposing the American decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, his loud condemnation, his rejection and his regional and international campaign against the measure only gained him credibility and esteem. His efforts, in his capacity as custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy places in the city, were visibly effective in isolating the American move globally.

The position of Jordan was no different when the US president decided to recognise Israel’s ownership of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, a measure that, in the Jordanian view, constitutes an illegal and a flagrant violation of international law, as well as a serious threat to regional peace and stability.

On the home front, in repeated meetings with various sectors of the Jordanian society and the army, King Abdullah cleared all concerns by clarifying any existing ambiguities by declaring that Jordan would never be the alternative homeland for the Palestinians, will never provide Palestinian refugees with permanent residence at the expense of their right of return to their own land in Palestine and will never accept any change to the status of Jerusalem, which should be the capital of the envisaged Palestinian state.

Very recently though, there has been important developments, within the same context.

The US decided to hold an economic conference in Bahrain at the end of June to disclose the economic half of its “deal of the century”, apparently in the hope that improvement of the living conditions of the Palestinians under siege in Gaza or under occupation in the West Bank would make them abandon their legitimate rights and political aspirations.

Advancing the economic part of the deal without any mention of the yet to be disclosed political part, has been met with clear consternation, if not reluctance.

Similar economic conferences were held in the mid nineties of the last century as part of the then Peace process, with similar dubious intentions, namely to circumvent vital and persistent political issues. They all lapsed without leaving any trace. The Bahrain try will probably end the same way if it ever starts.

But again, this novel Jared Kushner effort, however amateurish and hastily planned, raised again the question on whether Jordan would be able to stay away and risk angering the initiators.

Apparently concerned about cool reception of his idea, Kushner decided to visit Jordan with two other countries last week, clearly to promote the Bahrain meeting and rally support.

Again, King Abdullah could not be more drastic in informing Kushner in no unclear terms of the unshakeable position of his country and himself that there will be no alternative to the two-state solution formula that leads to the rise of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. By reaffirming such principles, King Abdullah, once again, declared his rejection of the entire Kushner “deal of the century”, the political part of it as well as the economic. And by insisting on the rise of an independent Palestinian state, the Jordanian Monarch is, once again, declaring his rejection of US decision on Jerusalem, his rejection of any talk about allowing Israel to annex parts of the West Bank, as well as his affirmation that the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to their original homes in Palestine as internationally approved, will never be subject to compromise despite all measures to abolish UNRWA.

This same Jordanian position was repeated by King Abdullah in the three Mecca summits few days ago. With that, the King’s repeated declarations left no space for distortion or doubt. After all, this is the right approach for regional peace and stability. It may place Jordan temporarily under some pressure and some difficulties, but it will serve the long-term interests of the entire region and all its people. It is also the right prescription for orderly and peaceful life away from wars and adventurism, from which our region suffered more than enough and deserves a break.

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