Nermeen Murad
The Jordan Times (Opinion)
December 16, 2012 - 1:00am


The Middle Eastern order is at our doorstep, with a clearly designated role for Jordan with regard to the Palestine-Israel conflict. And while clearly the political debate must take into account all the pros and cons of that role — personal, ideological and demographic — it would be important to also take a realistic and pragmatic view.

A well-negotiated and planned confederated political system that would allow Jordan and Palestine their separate political/administrative system of governance (and subculture identities) but unites their forces vis-à-vis structures of socioeconomic stability and prosperity, and ensures their solidity and security is not bad news for either.

But an imposed confederation formula that denies Palestinians and Jordanians their uniqueness and subverts both and employs them to ensure only the security concerns of Israel is.

Within the current regional demands for democratisation and citizen participation, it would be wrong to consider the political option of a confederation only from a leadership perspective. If there is a new reality vis-à-vis the Palestine-Israel conflict within this new “Arab Spring” atmosphere, this reality is that a deal cannot be brokered without public and popular buy in.

Neither the leadership in Palestine nor that in Jordan can legitimately (or safely) make this decision without the credible support of a majority of Jordanians and Palestinians. To gain this support, the deal must be fair, honest, transparent and promising a new and more optimistic political and economic reality for both.

Yes, the deal must also ensure the integrity and security of an Israeli state within legitimate and UN-verified borders living in peace with its neighbours. But in the spirit of even handedness and fair political play, this guarantee must at minimum also be extended to provide the inhabitants of the proposed new confederation — and its two administrative subsets — with their own stability, integrity and security within their own legitimate and UN-verified borders.

In simple terms, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, people, water, air and humanity must end. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinians’ political, economic, human and social future must also end. Israel cannot continue to play the double game of socialising with the “democratic” West, while continuing to keep the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip under its military and economic thumb.

Jordanians — while intrinsically and historically tied to their Palestinian neighbours — have legitimate fears of the demographic threat and economic — and even political — burden of linking their future permanently to that of the Palestinians. But the bulk of this concern has economic roots and can only be addressed or alleviated through a concrete and documented plan to ensure the prosperity of the proposed confederation, which is guaranteed by the US and the UN to the same level it has guaranteed Israel’s security since the beginning of the Arab-Israeli conflict more than six decades ago.

It is obviously premature and perhaps even presumptuous to discuss a confederation at this point. The people whose future will be impacted by such a step are wary of any such move and fear its ramifications.

Both Jordanian and Palestinian leaderships understand that the day when they could broker deals with Israel without public approval and support are long gone. The international architects of such a proposal must help guarantee this support through their own commitment to fair play, even handedness and, very importantly, and perhaps for the first time, respect for the struggle of the Palestinians and their right to independence.

Realistically, we should not, perhaps, discuss the endgame, but instead use the opportunity of this debate to begin putting in place the “confidence-building measures” that the Arab side — and especially the Jordanian and Palestinian people — will need from Israel (and the US) in order to begin to contemplate considering giving their approval to such a plan.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017