Daily Israel Report

Jordan's Head of Senate: Unite Two Banks of Jordan River

A Jordanian legislator is calling for his country to become a "state of two united banks" – Jordan on both sides of the Jordan River.
By Malkah Fleisher
First Publish: 5/26/2010, 10:33 PM / Last Update: 5/27/2010, 8:12 AM

Flash 90

Just a year after Jordan erupted in outrage over an Israeli Knesset Members suggestion to turn Jordan into a Palestinian state, a Jordanian legislator is calling for his country to become a "state of two united banks" – Jordan on both sides of the Jordan River.

According to a Wednesday report by Britain's al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, Jordan's head of senate Taher al-Masri addressed an audience of approximately 1,000 attendees celebrating Jordanian independence, including King Abdullah II and his family, envisioning "the two united banks, with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan emerging on both banks of the holy river."

Some analysts say the statements were more ideological than political, intended to promote more warmth between Arabs inside Israel and Arabs in Jordan.  Others, however, see the statement as a telling step backward between the Jewish state and its eastern neighbor, and an attempt to reignite tensions regarding Jewish and Arab claims to Judea and Samaria.

In 1988, just after the outbreak of the First Intifada, then-leader King Hussein renounced all territorial claims to any lands inhabited by the State of Israel.  However, in 1994, Jordan signed a treaty with Israel in which it gained a role in Christian and Muslim hallowed sites in Jerusalem.

Last year, a bill by Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union) calling for two states for two peoples on both sides of the Jordan River – an Arab one on the Jordanian side and a Jewish one on the Israeli side – met with public outrage and a diplomatic row.  Israel's ambassador to Amman was called in for reprimand, and members of parliament urged the King to cut ties with Israel.

Almost half of Jordan's 6 million citizens are considered "Palestinian" in origin.