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26
May
2016

The New Jordanian-Palestinian Chasm


Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Palestinian Authority’s Abu Mazen in 2005.

Better days: Jordan’s King Abdullah and the Palestinian Authority’s Abu Mazen in 2005. (Released by the Jordanian Palace)

King Abdullah II of Jordan delivered his “Crown Speech” on May 24, 2015, to commemorate Jordanian independence day and the 70th anniversary of the founding of Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy.  His attitude toward the Palestinian issue deserves attention. 

Abdullah stated that Palestine is part of the “Arabism [uruba]” of the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks declared on June 5, 1916, and he stressed the centrality of the al-Aqsa Mosque as the primary responsibility of the Hashemites.1

The Arab Revolt saw the Hashemites joining the British in World War I which ended the Ottoman Caliphate and established Arab nationalism in its ruins.

Winston Churchill, British Secretary of State for the Colonies, with King Abdullah I and T. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”), in Jerusalem, 1921.

Fateful meeting. Winston Churchill, British Secretary of State for the Colonies, with King Abdullah I and T. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”), in Jerusalem, 1921.  The three discussed the establishment of Transjordan in the secret meeting.

Abdullah ignored Palestinian desires for a state – and Palestinian nationalism, in general ― and declared that Palestine is part of “Arabism” [Arab identity] meaning that there is no Palestinian distinctiveness.

The Crown Speech came after a progressive deterioration in relations between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to the point of a break between the King and the head of the PA, Abu Mazen.  It began two years ago when Palestinians forced the Jordanian delegation to the UN Security Council to submit a proposal contrary to Jordan’s position on Jerusalem.  It continued with the shameful expulsion of a senior Jordanian religious figure from the al-Aqsa Mosque, Jordan’s failure to install security cameras on the Temple Mount after Palestinian objections, and most recently, the abrogation of a written agreement between Jordan and the PA about Jordan representing Jerusalem at UNESCO.  A reminder: the Palestinians passed a decision at UNESCO erasing Jewish history on the Temple Mount.

Looming over the Jordanian-PA rift is the possible Jordanian option to close the bridges over the Jordan River as Egypt closed its Rafah crossing with Gaza.  Jordan threatened to do so after the expulsion of its representatives from the al-Aqsa Mosque, and it has never rescinded the threat.  This explains a delegation of Hebron merchants to Jordan to create a separate commercial arrangement between Hebron and Jordan that would not be harmed by the bridge closings.  A large delegation of the Hebron Hills villages is currently being organized.

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Notes

1. http://kingabdullah.jo/index.php/en_US/speeches/view/id/587/videoDisplay/0.html

Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II On the Occasion of Jordan’s 70th Independence Day

Amman, Jordan

24 May 2016

(Translated from Arabic)

Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

Jordan is celebrating its 70th Independence Day, along with the centennial of the Great Arab Revolt and Arab renaissance. These historical occasions have planted and nourished the seeds of our homeland, with sacrifice, bravery and a deep sense of belonging. They are the source of our values, principles and the foundations of our policies. We stand together to commemorate the events that shaped our history and to honour the leaders, and the men and women, who set the course that lit our path towards the future.

These principles ― embraced by the generations of the Arab Revolt ― are the beacon that led the way to independence and the Jordan of the future. The Independence Proclamation was signed 70 years ago by our Founding Grandfather [His Majesty the late King Abdullah I], here at Raghadan Palace, rendering this place a witness to the sacrifices and values that steered the building of Jordan.

Even now, the first bullet fired in the Great Arab Revolt still echoes in the skies of our nation. Every Jordanian carries inside something of that day and these principles lie at the centre of his or her identity.

Our generation should realise that the Great Arab Revolt was not an isolated event in history. Rather, it was the beginning of a nation established on clear principles that reflect the true nature of Jordanians, as a people with an exceptional ability to survive the tests of time, laying the foundations for our continuing development.

Jordan, the heir to the banner of the Great Arab Revolt and the renaissance it ignited, is founded on justice, equality, citizenship and the rule of law. There is no difference between Jordanians, except by what they do for their country.

I am inspired by the clear vision of Sharif Hussein and his call for unity, freedom and pluralism as well as his advocacy of religious harmony. It was he who said, “The Arabs were Arabs before they were Muslims or Christians.”

This nation was built on unity and a unifying national identity that embraces all those, who, with dignity and pride in being Jordanian, believe in this country, cherish and defend it. Every citizen is a full partner in the process of building, hard work and giving, and they share rights and duties.

With the principles it embodies, our country stands strong, proud and dignified. Resilient, it moves forward despite difficult times, while other nations have fallen apart.

Our country’s pride in its religion and Arab identity is a national constant. Jordan was founded on the religious legitimacy of the Hashemites, who advocate Islam in a way that presents to the world the true image of this religion as a faith of tolerance that rejects all forms of extremism and violence.

Jordan, with its unifying identity, welcomes and supports its Arab brethren. Despite its size and meagre resources, it stands out in the world as a bright example of compassion, generosity and a nation that aids those in need.

And despite all the challenges, Jordan’s solid national unity, social coherence and peaceful nature give it strength.

Our country believes that political solutions are the only way to ensure international cooperation and justice in a global community. The cause that the Great Arab Revolt defended, and the one that is our foremost priority, is the Arab identity of Palestine.

Our great grandfather [Sharif Hussein] was sent into exile and sacrificed his throne while defending the Arab identity of Palestine. He spent everything he owned to renovate Al Aqsa Mosque; hence, he was called the ‘Friend of Al Aqsa’ in his life and the ‘Neighbour of Al Aqsa’ in his death. And the Hashemites still fulfil their responsibilities and duties towards the holy sites of Jerusalem.

Jordan is built on sacrifice and its people never hesitate to serve and defend their homeland. Jordanians are the descendants of the men who carried the banner of the Revolt and those who offered themselves in the name of the nation.

Brothers and sisters, With the help of God, and the determination and awareness of its people, Jordan has emerged as a country with a message: the message of freedom, peace, harmony and development, relying on our principles and proud of our identity and achievements.

Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

About Pinhas Inbari

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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