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Tensions In Jordan: Deal Must 'Return Palestinians'

King Abdullah II visits Obama, as his tenuous hold over Jordan leads to warnings he must push 'Palestinians' out or lose the monarchy.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 2/14/2014, 1:24 PM

King Abdullah II and Mahmoud Abbas
King Abdullah II and Mahmoud Abbas
Reuters

As US Secretary of State John Kerry continues his efforts to force through a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Jordan is reportedly nervous over the implications for King Abdullah II's tenuous hold over the country.

Abdullah is a member of the ruling Hashemite family that was brought in from Saudi Arabia by the British Mandate, when they gave King Hussein rule over the land east of the Jordan River in 1946 - land that was allotted for the Jewish state by the original League of Nations mandate.

Currently 60-80% of Jordan's citizens identify as "Palestinians," and remain in a secondary status with many professions blocked to them by the Jordanian monarchy, which hopes to "return" them over the river from where they claim their ancestors left around Israel's War of Independence.

Abdullah is set to meet US President Barack Obama this Friday in California, where they reportedly will talk about the effects of a peace deal on Jordan, particularly in terms of the demands to "return Palestinian refugees," according to the Washington Post.

As noted, Abdullah's hold over Jordan is put in doubt by the country's $25 billion plus in public debt. The US is propping up Jordan with $1 billion a year, which has yet to alleviate the kingdom's economic crisis.

Apparently Jordan's government is hoping to be spared by a popular uprising by having the repressed "Palestinians" removed and sent to Israel as part of the deal.

In January, Jordan expressed its desire to be more closely involved in the talks, and was briefed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas about the talks. Last Saturday, Jordan declared that it refuses Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state, and Jordan's parliament ruled last December that it wouldn't recognize violence against Israel as terrorism.

Voices in Jordan tell king "kick out Palestinians or face consequences"

Several voices in Jordan have made it clear that Abdullah's hold over the country is dependent on his ability to push through a full "return of Palestinians" out of the country.

"The Americans wish to solve the Palestinian problem at Jordanian expense, and if that happens, if the government gives in to the demands of the United States, this will threaten the regime,” said Hamza Mansour, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

His sentiment was mirrored by Ali Habashneh, leader of the National Committee for Retired Officers in Jordan, who said "there is no way we would consider the Palestinian refugees as Jordanians, even if they carry national identification cards, or Jordanian passports, even if they are Jordanian citizens.

Habashneh added a warning to Abdullah not to allow "Palestinians" to stay, saying "if this plan comes to fruition, we will return the power to the people.”

Meanwhile Ibrahim Arabaty, a resident of the Baqaa camp outside Amman and self-identifying "Palestinian, said "with a stroke of a pen, Jordan can withdraw my citizenship, my investments, my property.” The atmosphere in the camp has turned "explosive, unfortunately," given the fomentation.