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The Israeli-Jordan Peace Agreement:
A Missed Opportunity

Raphael Israeli
Policy Paper No. 26, 1998


According to conventional wisdom, in Israel and the rest of the world, the peace between Israel and Jordan was a positive step in the peace process in the Middle East. This assumption rests on the premise that King Hussein being moderate and pro-Western, it was necessary to accommodate him and reinforce his rule by binding him more closely with the West via Israel.

This paper shows that not only Hussein is neither moderate nor pro-Western per-se, but he lacks legitimacy for his throne in the eyes of the Palestinian majority in his country. And so, instead of supporting democracy and the rule of the Palestinian majority in Jordan, the West, and Israel, find themselves approving of an autocratic king, who is neither a country nor a people, thus exacerbating, not resolving the Palestinian issue.

The paper also makes the point that the Palestinian problem, which needs to be addressed and resolved if there is to be peace in the Middle East, cannot even begin to taper off if we exclude Jordan, the main demographic and territorial basis of the Palestinians, from the settlement equation.

However, addressing the Palestinian problem in all its components, territorial and demographic (in Israel, the Territories and Jordan), does not have necessarily to mean the removal of the King, if he consents to rename his realm the "Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine", turns his rule into a constitutional monarchy and delivers the power to the Palestinian majority. Once in government, that majority, under Arafat or otherwise, will negotiate with Israel the permanent settlement in the West Bank and Gaza, these being a small part of the much larger Palestino-Jordanian entity. Under these circumstances, solutions will not only be easier but they could ultimately accommodate the Palestinian aspiration for statehood and in-gathering of the refugees, Hashemite survival as a royal house, and Israeli security concerns.