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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Jordanian King Abdullah’s Red Lines

Filed under: Jordan

Jordanian King Abdullah’s Red Lines
Screenshot of King Abdullah’s interview on CNN, broadcast on December 28, 2022.
  • Jordan is preparing for the possibility of worsening relations with Israel following the rise to power of the new Israeli government.
  • King Abdullah continues to coordinate with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and seeks to isolate Israel in the regional and international arenas.

The U.S. administration does not have a new peace plan that it intends to offer the Palestinians and Israel other than a general idea based on a two-state solution. President Biden understands that this idea is not realistic at present and prefers to focus on managing the conflict.

This policy is of great concern to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, especially in light of the rise of the new government to power in Israel. Jordan is concerned about unilateral measures by the Netanyahu government that will further distance the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state, which the Netanyahu coalition rejects outright.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is currently focused on trying to repel every move by the Israeli government that he perceives as a threat to the interests of the Hashemite Kingdom. The Jordanian king is concerned that with the establishment of the new government in Israel, the Palestinian issue will be minimalized in the international agenda.

Abdullah is also anxious about the succession issue regarding the leadership of the Palestinian Authority.

He fears that the brewing battle for succession in the PA does not point to a clear leader for the Palestinians on the day after Mahmoud Abbas exits the scene. All indicators point rather to the probability that a violent struggle will break out among his potential successors.

According to Jordanian sources, the King has been working secretly with the White House for several weeks to clarify his red lines and convey them to the Netanyahu government. The King appeared on CNN in an interview that aired on December 28, 2022,1 and warned that unilateral measures by the new government in Israel could lead to a conflict with Jordan and a new intifada west of the Jordan River.

The King has now remained silent. Sources in Jordan say that he is awaiting visits by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to Israel, who are expected to back up the Jordanian position and “warn” the Israeli government on taking what it calls unilateral steps on the “al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount” (as labeled by State Department spokesman Ned Price2) and in the West Bank.

Jordanian officials say that King Abdullah is closely following the deep disputes in Israel over the proposed legal reforms and hopes that the protests will lead to early elections, or at least to curbing the steps of the Netanyahu government. In the meantime, the King has set forth his principles and Jordan’s red lines for 2023.

Jordan is preparing in effect for a political confrontation with the Netanyahu government. The King’s “red lines” are as follows:

  1. Strict maintenance of Jordan’s position as the “Guardian of the Holy Places” in Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount, in accordance with the 1994 peace agreement.
  2. Jordanian opposition to any Israeli attempt to give Saudi Arabia a foothold in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  3. Rejection of any attempt by the Biden administration to adopt clauses from President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan.
  4. Jordanian opposition to the expansion of Jewish settlements and any move by the new government to annex territories in Area C.
  5. Insisting on the “two-state solution” paradigm and rejecting any Israeli attempt to imply that “Jordan is Palestine.”

King Abdullah’s immediate strategy is to isolate the new government in Israel and present it to the world as a racist, apartheid government. He coordinates this matter with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and supports all Palestinian moves against Israel in the UN arena and at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The King has complete support in the Jordanian Parliament for this strategy, He is furthermore influenced by the opposition Islamic Action Front, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, which also exerts pressure on him because of the difficult economic situation in Jordan and the increase in fuel and food prices.

Relatedly, the King also focuses on the Palestinian issue to divert the attention of the Jordanian street from Jordan’s difficult economic problems

What should be of considerable concern to Israel is the King’s intention to put a wedge between Israel and the Arab countries with which it has peace and normalization agreements and to try and isolate it. Jordan did not participate in the second gathering of the Negev Forum that took place on January 9, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, despite requests from the United States and the other countries that are members of the forum.

The steering committee of the Negev Forum (without Jordan) met in Abu Dhabi, on January 9, 2023
The steering committee of the Negev Forum (without Jordan) met in Abu Dhabi, on January 9, 2023. (UAE Foreign Ministry)

The official assessment of the Jordanian Foreign Ministry is that the coming year may see a rupture in the relations between Jordan and Israel.

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