Anger at Israel expressed this week during Jordan's parliamentary election campaign stems from the fear that the Hashemite Kingdom may be forced to accept back the Palestinian Arabs that came under Israel's sovereignty following the 1967 Six Day War.
The candidates are expressing fears that if talks collapse between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Jordan may instead become the de facto Palestinian state. They use the fear to fuel arguments supporting cancellation of the country's 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
The unstated concern that Jordan may be forced to accept as new citizens hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Authority residents stems partly from the fact that the country's population is already more than 50 percent Palestinian. Those Jordanians who are not Palestinian are Bedouin, and support King Abdullah II and the royal family.
The possibility, raised by nationalist Israelis as the “Jordanian option,” has exacerbated growing concerns among Jordanians that Israel may prefer this plan above all.
“It would mean Jordan's demise and the obliteration of our national identity,” said independent candidate Salameh Ghoweiry in a campaign speech in Zarqa, hometown of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, assassinated leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Pro-government Bedouin politicians with ties to the king are expected to sweep the election, especially since the fundamentalist Islamic Action Front – the largest opposition group – is boycotting the polls.
As a result, any criticism from the next Jordanian parliament over King Abdullah's policies is likely to be desultory at best.