Hassan Barari
The Jordan Times (Opinion)
October 27, 2009 - 12:00am

Fifteen years have elapsed since Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty, yet rarely can one find a Jordanian who would say that peace is a reality. Very few Jordanians are convinced that Israel is serious about what reaching a historical reconciliation with Arabs.

That said, the peace treaty, which was subject of regular attack by Jordanian opposition, has survived the ups and downs of the volatile regional challenges. The Jordanian-Israeli relations have become strained over the last decade and a half, due mainly to the way Jordanians view Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Jordan has never sought a separate peace with Israel. On the contrary, Amman has viewed its peace treaty with Tel Aviv as a part of a comprehensive regional peace that can create an environment conducive to prosperity and stability.

This has yet to materialise.

On the whole, Jordanians have been troubled by the ebb and flow of the Middle East peace process and often ask whether the Middle East peace process has finally run aground, whether the clock is ticking on the two-state solution or whether there are still politicians who can lead their countries to peace.

After Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated, it is difficult to talk about genuine Israeli leaders. He was the only leader who managed to transcend all internal political constrains and went down in history as a genuine peacemaker. None of his successors reached that level simply because they have subordinated peacemaking to the imperative of political survival.

For Jordan, peace with Israel cannot reach its potential without a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. If left unchecked, Israeli politics will chip away at the prospect of a two-state solution. Therefore, the perpetuation of the status quo, coupled with the changing demographic reality in the area that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, will inevitably transform Israel into a binational state. Such a scenario would damage the raison d’être of Zionism, namely a Jewish state. Israel might stave off such a nightmare by forcing a kind of transfer of Palestinians. Jordan is unsurprisingly apprehensive of this possible disastrous scenario.

Over the last 15 years, Jordan and Israel failed to build a warm peace. The reason for this is, by and large, the impossibility of insulating the Jordanian-Israeli relations from the Israeli-Palestinian track. On the whole, Jordanians who supported the peace treaty in 1994 were soon frustrated by Israel’s unwillingness to allow Palestinians to practise their right to self-determination.

Israel’s wars against Palestinians have made Jordanians rightly furious, in addition to Israel’s relentless effort to build settlements. Even the pro-peace camp in Jordan is convinced that Israel has ulterior motives, which are at the expense of the Palestinians. Moreover, Jordanians are not happy with the fact that Israeli politics has shifted to the right, a position that is not conducive to making peace.

Notwithstanding this gloomy analysis, I think that the situation is reversible, provided that Washington steps in to convince Tel Aviv that peace is in the best interest of both Israel and the region as a whole. If the American administration comes to realise that peace serves its strategic interests in the wider Middle East, then Tel Aviv cannot escape pressure.

Short of a forceful and effective third-party intervention (American’s) to sway Israeli politics, there is little hope that local players can make peace on their own. By the same token, if America fails to assume a leadership role in this particularly hot issue, then radicalism lies ahead.


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