The Trump administration sees the two-day “Peace to Prosperity” summit in Bahrain’s capital this week as marking the first step in a grander plan aimed at resolving the decades-old conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
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The Jordanian government is particularly unsettled by this summit and the ramifications for the region as well as possible turmoil in the Hashemite Kingdom.
Although details of the so-called “Deal of the Century” are not known to the public, reports indicate that the US peace plan entails the consolidation of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land outside of the Jewish state’s internationally recognised borders and Jordan being required to absorb descendants of Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed during the Nakba of 1947-1948.
Many observers consider the intended purpose of this “workshop” to be the establishment of the foundation for the “Deal of the Century”, placing Jordan’s leadership in an awkward position as Amman does not want to see Jordan as an “alternative homeland” for Palestinians.
Considering the potential marginalisation of Jordanian interests, it is not difficult to understand why so many have taken their anger against the “Deal of the Century” to the street.
On June 21, hundreds of Jordanian supporters of the Islamic Action Front (the country’s largest opposition group) in Amman protested the “Deal of the Century” and called on their government to boycott the “workshop” in Manama, chanting “O Trump, O Trump, go away from us. Jordan is steadfast and we will never kneel…No to normalisation with Israel… down, down with the Bahrain conference.”
Amman is under pressure from Washington and Riyadh, which supplies the Hashemite Kingdom with much economic aid, to attend the conference and possibly help lend Jared Kushner some degree of credibility in his “peacemaker” role. As there are growing signs of discontent within Jordan as well continued calls for major reforms, striking this delicate balance between Jordanian citizens and allies will be challenging for the leadership in Amman.
To engage with the Trump administration and show support to Gulf kingdoms without being perceived as having betrayed the Palestinians, Jordan will attend the summit but while also opposing plans that do not call for a sovereign, independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
From a domestic standpoint, embracing any solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict other than the two-state solution would be political suicide for Jordan’s leaders, thus, Jordanian officials are reluctant to attend this conference.
Amman also has further concerns about this “workshop” triggering a grave and existential crisis for Jordan.
Throughout the Hashemite Kingdom, there is concern about how the US, Israel, and certain Gulf states are dealing with the Palestinian issue in ways that severely threaten stability in Jordan.
Many experts believe that if Jordan would absorb the Palestinian refugees, the international community would eventually drop the Palestine file and forget the “right of return” as established under international law.
Under such circumstances, Jordan would pay a significant price, and the country’s communal tensions could easily flare up because of the demographic implications of the “Deal of the Century” moving forward.
Tribal Jordanians, who have roots in the East Bank and who have historically served as a foundation of support for the Hashemite Kingdom’s monarchy, have fears about such demographic changes that would result from Jordan officially granting Jordanian citizenship to these Palestinians who would become a new voting majority in Jordan.
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