For a considerable period of time, Jordanian political elites have been busying themselves and the country too with the meaningless talk about an Israeli scheme to turn Jordan into a “substitute homeland” for Palestinians.
Once again in Jordan, you see politicians shying away from mega issues facing their economically, socially and now demographically-concerned kingdom to raise concerns over something that is still in the level of intention or maybe conspiracy. These two things have no place in politics anyway.
Though there might be a point behind such concerns over the “substitute homeland” scheme (indeed there should be), “enough is enough” anyway as we in Jordan have other urgent woes to address other than a matter the least to be said about is its unrealism and surrealism.
Just an illusion
Once more in Jordan, King Abdullah had to interfere to alleviate Jordanians’ concerns over the “substitute homeland”, describing the Israel's never publicly-announced scheme as nothing more than an illusion in the minds of rumor-mongers.
Once again in Jordan, you see politicians shying away from mega-issues facing their economically, socially and now demographically-concerned kingdomRaed Omari
The king was at this time angry and very annoyed, telling senior government officials that that the substitute homeland scheme “exists only in the minds of people who want to create some sort of confusion,” unprecedentedly threatening to unveil the names of the attention-starved politicians if they bring the subject again.
No matter what, King Abdullah’s anger was justified as it is completely meaningless to base a talk on unannounced Israeli intention that, even if transformed into a plan, it can’t be applied in reality with regard to history, demography, topography and many other considerations.
The ‘substitute homeland’
Some Jordanian politicians’ concerns over the “substitute homeland” could have been also justified if not that exaggerated and if not placed as Jordan’s top priority. The Syrian crisis and its consequences on Jordan should be the priority now over the peace process, addressing the economic challenges should be also a priority.
Remarkably enough, the “substitute homeland” is not a priority for the lay Jordanians. It simply isn't. Economy or maybe the prolonged lack of rainfall is their major priority now. This is not in any way an underestimation of Jordanians’ overall interests but it is the projection of the urgent vs. the uncritical matters.
However, some Jordanians’ tension over the “substitute homeland” might be stemmed this time from what has been said in the West Bank and what is being done in the Israeli Knesset. In Jordan, recent remarks by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas that he was not looking "to flood Israel" with returning Palestinian refugees was interpreted as a covert drop the Palestinian right of return and an inseparable component of an Israeli-Palestinian plotting against Jordan that hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees.
The Israeli lawmakers’ motion to impose Israel's sovereignty over the Haram Al Sharif Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, consequently stripping Jordan from its status as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, has been received with unprecedented fury by Jordanian deputies.
Jordanian lawmakers’ anger reached its climax when they voted unanimously to expel the Israeli ambassador to the kingdom in protest against the Israeli Knesset’s debate on Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Before that, Jordan’s MPs also demanded that Jordan’s 1994 Wadi Araba Peace Treaty with Israel be frozen should the Knesset’s proposed bill is endorsed.
Though many in Jordan interpreted their representatives’ vote to expel the Israeli ambassador as meant to show off or please the public and the angry king as such a matter is solely decided by the executive authority, Jordan cannot remain silent when it comes to Jerusalem not only for political considerations but for historical, spiritual and moral commitment. No compromise on Jerusalem.
Jordan’s government can’t ignore deputies pressing demand in case of such an Israeli controversial bill on the sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque compound be endorsed. Following Jordanian Lower House’s heated session, Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and acting foreign minister Mohammad al-Momani was quoted as saying that the Israeli measures in Jerusalem would threaten the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty.
To make the long story short, Jordan can’t help but expel the Israeli ambassador and abolish its peace with Israeli if the Israelis adopt any measure to cancel its role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem. In conclusion, the Jordanian-Israeli relationship is now on shaky ground.
However, the Knesset’s provocative move while the peace process is being pushed forward by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is supposed to come up with a framework agreement on the Middle East, is in fact something difficult to comprehend.
Again, with such Israeli controversial move and before those provocative remarks here and there by the Israeli Likud party’s hardliners calling for converting Jordan into an alternative homeland for the Palestinians, coupled with the deadlock in the peace process since the 1993 Oslo Accords and the Israeli extremists’ assaults on al-Aqsa Mosque, then it’s never surprising to see Jordanians and also Palestinians “haunted” by the substitute homeland scheming. But they need not be that much worried anyway.
Achieving the “substitute homeland” myth requires the mobilization of millions of Palestinians eastward towards Jordan, dropping the right of return, recognition of Israel as a purely Jewish state and relinquishing Arabs’ sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque compound. These are difficult to achieve goals and also hard to relinquish commitments. This is Israel’s major dilemma by the way.
Now aside from the so much interrelated Jordanian-Palestinian relationship to the point Jordan (the East Bank) has never been detached historically, politically, geographically and socially from Palestine (the West Bank), Jordan will remain Jordan and Palestine will remain Palestine, full stop.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2