The anti-Iran Sunnis and the ‘Jordanian Option’     
The anti-Iran Sunnis and the ‘Jordanian Option’

On September 1, 1967, the Arab League summit delivered the "Three No's" - no to peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel. This declaration was passed as part of the Khartoum Resolution at a summit attended by eight Arab heads of state in the shadow of the Six-Day War, which saw Israel's unprecedented defeat of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

For the past 70 years, this has been the official policy of all Sunni nations in the Middle East: no to Israel and yes to the Palestinians demand for an independent state, until now. All of this has now come to an end.

The split in the Islamist nations between the Sunni majority led by Saudi Arabia and the Shia minority led by Iran has turned the tables on many strategic givens.  The continuing obsolete thinking in the United States and Western European capitals must change.  What was, will no longer be. Sunni nations that were in the past at the forefront of the “Three No’s” strategy are today major allies of the State of Israel, and are coordinating  their military and strategic postures with Israel to defend themselves against the aggressive Shia threat emanating from Iran and her allies. 

The Palestinian Arabs are a major ally of Iran alongside the terror movement Hezbollah and are totally subservient to the Shia regime of Ayatollahs in Iran. With the Palestinian Arabs leaving the fold of the Sunni world, they have not only lost the support of all major Sunni nations, but have also sabotaged by their own hand the feasibility of a two-state solution. For this reason, the two state solution for the Palestinians is out, and the “Jordanian Option” is back on the table as a viable and sustainable option.

Now is time for the international community to go back to basics and seek a remedy elsewhere, after nearly forty years of advocating the two-state solution and after thousands of Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terrorists.  Palestinian Arab autonomy based on a federation within the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan offers the only viable and sustainable hope for the Palestinian Arabs residing in the West Bank -- also known in Israel as Judea and Samaria. This “Jordanian Option” of enabling the Palestinian Arabs to be incorporated within the sovereign borders of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan can offer a realistic approach in meeting the legitimate historical claims of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and at the same time satisfy those Palestinian Arabs with the political aspiration of controlling their own destiny.

After nearly 100 years of a failed Palestinian Arab national movement and given the bleak scenarios that lie ahead for the Palestinian Arabs, now is the time to go back to the establishment of a Jordanian-Palestinian federation. 

With the Palestinians losing the financial and political support of the Sunni nations of the Middle East, how can this new reality be used to engage strategic actors to play a critical role in making the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan re-engage the Palestinian leadership into some kind of federation within the Kingdom?

The Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia, can provide the finance for the newly formed Palestinian-Jordanian Sunni ally. The United States, under President Donald Trump, has recommitted to maintaining the U.S. security umbrella with the Gulf states. With the establishment of the Palestinian-Jordanian federation, the United States will have a strategic belt of nations spanning from Saudi Arabia - Palestinian-Jordanian federation – Israel – Egypt making a united and powerful front to the larger threat posed by Iran to American interests. The formidable military power of this strategic belt will provide the United States with the needed deterrence against Iran without having to commit American forces.

Jordan can also become a major recipient of international aid that has been earmarked for the Palestinian Authority. Jordanian control of these funds would significantly improve due diligence and transparency, ensuring that the funding is not funneled to incitement and terror but to provide for the basic needs of the Palestinian Arabs. Much of the Palestinian frustration is in response to the corruption and outright stealing of international aid by Palestinian leaders over the years.

Jordanian control of international aid at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, would allow Jordan to deepen her political influence among the Palestinian local leadership, and build a constituency that will gain strength among the general Palestinian public.

As for peace prospects, a Palestinian-Jordanian federation could negotiate with Israel a peace agreement in accord with principles agreed upon over two decades when Israel and Jordan signed an official peace agreement that has been in force and largely successful in creating peace between the two nations. The road map to such a peace agreement won’t be easy but the potential benefits in renewing the “Jordanian Option” outweigh the suffering and the immense cost of the conflict associated with a two state solution that is no longer viable.

The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel.