Trump peace plan delayed as Jordan balks at replacing PLO
Trump peace plan delayed as Jordan balks at replacing PLO

President Trump’s long-awaited plan on ending the Arab-Israeli conflict will be further delayed following a flurry of diplomatic activity over the past week.

Critical to the success of Trump’s plan will involve replacing the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as Israel’s negotiating partner, as it has been over the last 25 years. The PLO, administravely known as the Palestinian Authority (PA) has cut its own throat by making it very clear it will have nothing to do with anything Trump proposes.

Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt met in New York City on 15 June with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.  The White House reported that they had a productive discussion about the efforts of the United States to promote peace in the Middle East and to meet humanitarian needs in Gaza. 

This UN visit was followed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flying to Amman for a public meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah on June 18 – their first since 2014. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, General Intelligence Department Director Maj. Gen. Adnan Jundi, Adviser to His Majesty and Director of the Office of His Majesty Manar Dabbas and Adviser to His Majesty for Economic Affairs Mohamad Al Ississ attended the meeting.

Communiques separately issued by Netanyahu and Abdullah following their meeting differ significantly.

Netanyahu’s communique was very brief stating they had discussed:

 “Regional developments and advancing the peace process, and bilateral relations. Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem”

Abdullah’s communique was far more expansive and revealing:

“His Majesty King Abdullah, at a meeting on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who departed Jordan after a short visit, stressed the need to make progress in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution and in accordance with international law, relevant UN resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative.

"King Abdullah reaffirmed that the only way to achieve peace and stability in the region is by reaching a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.”

Abdullah was mouthing the mantra articulated by the PLO over the last 25 years during unsuccessful negotiations with Israel. Trump has little chance of seeing his own “ultimate deal ” come to fruition if Jordan replaces the PLO and continues propagating this same failed objective.

Abdullah’s communique continued:

“The King affirmed that Jordan will continue upholding its historical role in safeguarding Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, in accordance with the Hashemite Custodianship.”

The Washington Declaration signed by Israel and Jordan on 25 July 1994 respected “the present role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Muslim Holy Shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”

Extending Jordan’s custodianship to the Christian holy sites is presumptuous of Abdullah and flies in the face of the Washington Declaration.

Kushner and Greenblatt met Abdullah on 19 June – when the King stood his ground repeating almost verbatim the above statements made to Netanyahu just the day before.

Trump – the consummate deal maker - will probably delay releasing his plan until Abdullah agrees to negotiate with Israel on recovering some of the land lost in the 1967 Six Day War by Jordan to Israel in Judea and Samaria ('West Bank')

Abdullah would be a brave man if he continues to defy Trump when the King visits the White House on 25 June.

Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators –  whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog