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The King’s clarity

Nov 25,2019 - Last updated at Nov 25,2019

Addressing a New York audience, King Abdullah made it perfectly clear that Israeli-Jordanian relations are at an all-time low. At an event in New York city organised and hosted by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy — a think tank known for its pro-Israel leanings — King Abdullah blamed Israeli domestic issues for the current Israeli-Jordanian bilateral relations.

To be sure, King Abdullah is seen in the United States as a moderate leader whose quest for comprehensive and lasting peace is beyond doubt. He has worked so hard to bring about peace. Like his late father, he never missed an opportunity to express his sincere desire to peacefully resolve the Palestinians issue. Jordan has long supported a two-state solution, because other alternatives would be worse for all. Besides, the King never left a stone unturned to help produce a conducive environment for peace. Therefore, when he pointed finger at Israel as the cause for the current stalemate, no one in the United States could accuse him of being anti-Israel. On the contrary, the audience — mainly American Jews — gave him a standing ovation. 

Obviously, the King was sending clear messages that time is ticking on a two-state solution. He implicitly blamed the United States for not doing enough to resolve the long-standing conflict. Of course, it takes leadership and courage to speak clearly and openly against current American policy in the region as a whole. The King was right when he stressed that only the United States could help resolve the Palestinian issue. 

Unfortunately, the incumbent American president has opted for a policy that has almost killed the peace process. With the latest American decision on settlements, it is clear that the United States is not only committed to the security of Israel but also to its expansion! It seems that the American right is no longer interested in helping resolve the conflict. Needless to say, Washington has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

The other night, I was on Al Jazeera debating the issue of settlements with an American adviser to the Republican Party. Shockingly, he said that for President Trump to do something against international law with regard to Israeli settlements is leadership! He said that his country stands with Israel against its enemies and that Israel is surrounded by foes! This proves that the narrative inside the United States is identical to the one held by the Israeli right. I personally lived and worked in the United States and noticed the dominance of this kind of narrative.

This reminds me of the late Edward Said’s insistence that there is a repertoire of negative images about Arabs and serotypes to justify injustice done to the Palestinians. So, it is of paramount importance for the King to shock these convictions held by many Americans with regard to Arabs and Israelis, and tell them directly that Israel is to blame and that their country has to rethink its ill-advised strategy towards the region as a whole and the Palestinian cause in particular.

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