King Abdullah: Jordan Was Better Off without Peace with Israel
King Abdullah of Jordan has joined the Arab world’s saber-rattling against Israel and warned that the status of Jerusalem could blow up into another war. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he also stated that Jordan was better off economically before it made peace with Israel in 1994.
Taking advantaged of the American-led diplomatic offensive against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Obama's negative attitude towards Israel, he said, “I think the overlap that happened between me and Prime Minister Netanyahu 10 or 11 years ago was not very pleasant. It was actually the three most unpleasant months in the relationship between Jordan and Israel... Our relationship with Israel is at an all-bottom low. It hasn't been as bad as it is today and as tense as it is today.”
In the interview, he warned three times that the lack of a new Palestinian Authority state west of the Jordan and failure to settle the status of Jerusalem according to Arab demands could ignite Muslim frustration and anger.
The king also maintained that "Jerusalem specifically engages Jordan because we are the custodians of the Muslim and Christian holy places and this is a flashpoint that goes beyond Jordanian-Israeli relations." Neither King Abdullah nor the interviewer noted that Jordan denied Jews and Christians access to holy sites when it illegally occupied most of Jerusalem, including the Old City, Temple Mount and Western Wall, between 1949 and 1967. This was a result of its successful invasion of the beleaguered young state of Israel. Jerusalem was never recognized by any other nation as belonging to Jordan.
"The political trust is gone," he said. "There is no real economic relationship between Jordan and Israel. So economically we were better off in trade and in movement before my father signed the peace treaty."
Although Jordan is considered to have the warmest relations with Israel, King Abdullah’s comment reflect a swing towards warm relations with Syria. "We're sort of the power brigade… us and other countries, trying to see where issues of contention between Israelis and Palestinians and make the atmosphere more amiable," he said.
"Jordan's relationship with Syria is better than it has been in a long time; probably the best it's ever been," he told the Journal. "So the engagement now between the Syrian and Jordanian government on economic cooperation are at an all-time high."
He also dismissed ideas that Jordan should absorb Arabs who call themselves Palestinians with roots in Israel, arguing that such a move would create tremendous instability. The interview did not relate to instability in Israel due to the demands of the Arab world.
Instead, he played the demographic card, warning that the Arab population in Israel will be 50 percent of the country "in eight to 10 years."
"I think the long-term future of Israel is in jeopardy unless we solve our problems. Fifty-seven countries in the world, a third of the United Nations, do not recognize Israel. In a way, I think North Korea has better international relations than Israel."
He said that U.S. President Barack Obama has to prove his credibility by resolving the Arab-Israeli struggle and pointed out that the international community is on the side of the Arab world.
King Abdullah also backed the theory that solving the problem is the key to reducing the Iranian nuclear threat.
"If there are those that are saying that Iran is playing mischief, then I say it is being allowed to play mischief. The platform they use is the injustice of the Palestinians and Jerusalem. So if you start taking those cards off the table, then Iranian influence on the Mediterranean through Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza diminishes or becomes non-existent…. By dealing with the core issue, that's when you start taking cards away from the Iranian regime."
He said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell and American General James Jones all accept his theory.