Jordan-Israel negotiations based on President Trump’s long-awaited peace plan seem increasingly likely to happen - following retired Jordanian Ambassador and former editor of the Jordan Times – Walid Sadi – flagging Jordan’s legal and sovereignty claims in the 'West Bank' (Judea and Samaria) and East Jerusalem (“disputed territories”).
Sadi - in an op-ed article in the Jordan Times on 12 August - has forcefully argued that Jordan’s decision to cut off all legal and administrative relations with the disputed territories in July 1988 did not amount to Jordan ceding its claims to sovereignty for the following reasons:
“First of all, the unity of the West Bank with the East Bank was officially and constitutionally adopted on 24 of April 1950. No one disputes this fact. The Constitution of the country at the time was the 1952 Constitution, which stipulated in no uncertain terms that no part of the Kingdom shall be ceded, period. This provision makes the 1988 decision to cut off all legal and administrative relations between the two banks stopping short of ceding the West Bank to any side whatsoever. Any other interpretation of the 1988 political decision is absolutely untenable constitutionally.”
Jordan’s claims are far superior to those of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) – Jordan being the last Arab state to occupy and claim sovereignty (albeit illegally) in the disputed territories from 1948 until their loss to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
Indeed the 1964 PLO Charter made no claim to sovereignty in the disputed territories – completely negating any claimed ancient and long-standing rights accruing to its Arab populations which would outweigh the claims by Jordan to these areas - where sovereignty still remains undetermined between Arabs and Jews.
Jordan’s pivotal role in bringing Trump’s peace proposals to a successful conclusion are grounded in the following salient facts:
- 'West Bank' and East Jerusalem Arabs voted to unify these areas with Transjordan in 1950 and rename the unified entity - “Jordan”
- 'West Bank' Arabs were citizens of Jordan possessing Jordanian passports between 1950 and 1988.
- Half the members of the Jordanian Parliament were elected from the 'West Bank' Arab population between 1950 and 1967.
- Jordan’s population is overwhelmingly comprised of Arabs born east or west of the Jordan River.
- Jordan itself comprises 78% of the territory of former British Mandate Palestine, not an Arab entity.
- Jordan and Israel are the two successor states to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine already exercising between them mutually-agreed sovereignty in 95% of that former Palestine
- Jordanian custodianship of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem is guaranteed under the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.
Reunifying into one territorial unit the East Bank with agreed-upon areas of the 'West Bank' allocated to Jordan only requires Israel and Jordan to redraw their already existing internationally-recognised border to the satisfaction of both.
Israeli and Jordanian negotiators – armed only with pencils, sharpeners and erasers - can achieve this new dividing line within a relatively short time.
The PLO has made it clear it wants no part in negotiating Trump’s proposals. It – and Hamas - will be left to cool their heels and contemplate the many squandered opportunities to create an additional state between Israel and Jordan since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
Jordan’s decision to resurrect its long-dormant claims after 30 years of studied silence and subservience to PLO posturing should be welcomed by all who want to see the Jewish-Arab conflict ended.
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