I read Kevin Kelly’s update on Jordan’s plan for the West Bank (MER 144). Although it is hard to argue that the path of relationship between Jordan and the Palestinian movement led by Yasser Arafat was smooth and rosy, it is quite important to consider the reality of the ties that bind Jordanians and Palestinians since even before 1947. From a Jordanian perspective, these historical ties did not only help shape what Jordan stands for today, but will have their long term effects on the nature as well.
Kelly’s update is, unfortunately, tackling one aspect of the whole issue, i.e., the rivalry between Jordan government and PLO over political clout and dominance in the occupied territories. Jordan has to take seriously the claims forwarded by some present and former Israeli officials that the east bank of the Jordan river is part of biblical land of Israel. Many Israelis believe that establishment of total Israeli rule over all Palestine was interrupted by Jordan in 1948. Although these Israeli claims seem in tune with the slogan that Jordan is Palestine, in reality they perpetuate the feeling that some Israeli factions are serious about pushing their control across the Jordan river to the east bank. This threat and challenge constitutes the thrust of Jordan’s political, economical and military strategy. Whether at some juncture this represents what Kelly terms as Jordan’s attempt to establish political control in the occupied territories, needs more elaboration.
Let us, for a moment, consider two points. First: Under the economic duress prevailing in the occupied territories, Jordan is the only place where plans for development can come from, considering the geographical, demographical and political mosaic of the troubled region of the Middle East. Second: When reading Kelly’s opening paragraph, “Jordan and Israel have destroyed the post-Lebanon strategy of the Palestinian movement led by Yasser Arafat. King Hussein’s $1.2 billion five-year development plan for the occupied territories, unveiled in mid-July, provides the velvet glove to accompany Israel’s iron fist,” one might wonder about the lapse of time between the summer of 1982 when Israel, barbarically, expelled the Palestinian guerrillas from Lebanon, and Jordan’s announcement of its development plan for the occupied territories in July 1986, and ask why the writer chooses to link the two events with a stroke of a pen.
It is really saddening, after all these years of suffering and humiliation, to keep pointing fingers in easy directions, when we remain unable to identify our real foes.