Accentuate the Positive, Jordan is Palestine

As the wreckage of the two-state solution continues to pile up, a clear look at a possible break to the stalemate.

David Singer

OpEds David Singer
David Singer

Jordan's Minister of Culture Barakat Awajan recently received Palestinian Minister of Culture Anwar Abu Aisha in Amman and reportedly took the opportunity to highlight these fundamental facts:


"Jordan and Palestine are joined by one culture and connected by blood, geography and sacred ties."


As the wreckage of the two-state solution continues to pile up - Awajan was reminding the PLO that alternatives exist to the creation of a second Arab State in former Palestine - in addition to Jordan.


Lest one think this most recent Jordanian affirmation of common identity and heritage is not shared by the Palestinians - a similar statement  was expressed by the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat to Der Spiegel in 1986:


"Jordanians and Palestinians are indeed one people. No one can divide us. We have the same fate."


Arafat and Ajawan are only two of many Palestinian and Jordanian power brokers who have made similar statements in the intervening years.


Jordan and Palestine are joined by one culture and connected by blood, geography and sacred ties.
Their shared common identity has developed as a result of personal and business relationships formed by them while living on either side of the Jordan River in an area that had been under Ottoman rule for 400 years - until it became a single territorial unit in 1920 within which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted pursuant to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.


This territorial entity remained unified until 1946 when 78% of that territory was granted its independence by Great Britain to become known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan - while the remaining 22% remained under Great Britain's control as Mandatory until handed back to the United Nations in May 1948 with the goal of the Jewish Home unachieved.


The Arab populations on both sides of the River were reunited again in 1948 following Transjordan's invasion and occupation of the west bank of the Jordan and East Jerusalem in the 1948 War of Independence - when all Jews living there were forcibly expelled.


On 1 December 1948 the Palestinian National Conference in Jericho decided to place the west bank of the Jordan River (Judea and Samaria) under the sovereignty of Transjordan - which in 1949 then changed its name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.


On 11 April 1950 elections were held for a new Jordanian Parliament in which the Arabs on the west bank of the Jordan River were equally represented


On 24 April 1950 the Parliament unanimously passed the following resolution


“In the expression of the people’s faith in the efforts spent by His Majesty, Abdullah, toward attainment of natural aspirations, and basing itself on the right of self-determination and on the existing de facto position between Jordan and Palestine and their national, natural and geographic unity and their common interests and living space, Parliament, which represents both sides of the Jordan, resolves this day and declares:


First, its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State, which is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Husain, on a basis of constitutional representative government and equality of the rights and duties of all citizens….”


Identical citizenship rights were conferred on the population of this newly created entity.


This territorial union was to continue uninterrupted until Jordan's loss of the areas of Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.


Jordanian citizenship, however, continued to be enjoyed by Arab residents of the west bank of the Jordan until 31 July 1988 - when Jordan's King Hussein announced the severance of all administrative and legal ties with what came to be called  the "West Bank" or Judea and Samaria.


In the past 18 months - as the Oslo peace process has started to disintegrate - increasing talk of a confederation between Jordan and the PLO has surfaced.


On 17 June Middle East Monitor reported:


With regards to the Palestinian Arab issue, the king said that Jordan will continue to support the Palestinian people until they achieve their full rights and establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Talk of a confederation is, he suggested, "premature and out of context", as it would need the state to be established before it could even be discussed.


Events in Egypt and Syria indicate that the King does not have the luxury of time to see if the explosive issue of Palestinian Arab statehood can be resolved between Israel and the PLO - which is as far away as ever since it was first proposed twenty years ago.


Jordan - 70% of whose population or descendants was born in western Palestine - now needs to consider restoring Jordanian citizenship to their "West Bank" Arab kinsfolk as existed between 1950-1988.


95% of the area's Arab population live in Areas A and B under the total administrative control of the PLO.


Reaffirming and restoring the common kinship of blood, geography and sacred ties between Jordanians and Palestinian Arabs by bestowing Jordanian citizenship rights on those coming under the PLO umbrella could be achieved reasonably quickly in talks with the PLO.


It would signify further progress to match the signing of an agreement in March by King Abdullah and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas reaffirming Jordan’s custodianship of the Holy Places in Jerusalem

In the immortal words of Johnny Mercer:

"You've got to accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

And latch on to the affirmative

Don't mess with Mister In-Between


You've got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to the minimum

Have faith or pandemonium's

Liable to walk upon the scene"

In sum. pandemonium or progress are the stark choices now confronting the PLO and Jordan.