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Trump Resurrects the Idea of Jordan Is Palestine

Palestinians sit outside their damaged house as they look at a neighbouring house, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City August 9, 2014.  |

Across the world, there has been much speculation regarding the details of President Trump's "deal of the century," which has yet to be officially released to the public. Many are wondering what the deal aims to promote. Recently, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas removed the mystery surrounding Trump's deal when he announced that the proposal included a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan.

A well-connected Israeli source confirmed what Abbas proclaimed, telling the Haym Salomon Center that National Security Advisor John Bolton presented Trump's deal during his recent visit to Israel. Under the deal, the source claims, Palestinians living in Judea/Samaria, a.k.a. the West Bank, will get Jordanian citizenship and will be in a confederation with Jordan, while Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip will be given the option of being in a confederation either with Jordan or Egypt. Either way, the source claimed that negotiating a Gaza truce is part of the deal.

There is a historical basis for Jordan and the Palestinians being in a confederation together. Between 1950 and 1988, residents of Judea and Samaria possessed Jordanian citizenship. Between 1950 and 1967, half of the members of the Jordanian Parliament were from Judea/Samaria. And in 1950, Jordan had annexed Judea/Samaria even though the annexation was never internationally recognized as sovereignty. The 1952 Jordanian Constitution that defined the borders of its country as including both sides of the Jordan River was also never annulled.

Furthermore, in the past, the Jordanian leadership recognized the Palestinians as part of their own nation. Jordan's then-prime minister Abdul Hamid Sharaf stated in 1980, "The Jordanians and the Palestinians do not belong to different nationalities." Farouk Kaddoumi of the PLO Political Department said in an 1977 interview with Newsweek,"There should be a kind of a linkage because Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people."

The idea that Jordan is Palestine is not new. In fact, it is still considered the ideal solution by some in Israel. But Abbas is opposed to the confederation idea unless it also includes Israel. And the Hashemites are staunchly opposed to it, believing it will further destabilize their rule as they are a tiny minority imported from Saudi Arabia ruling over a Palestinian majority population. Jordan's king is reportedly against any deal where Jerusalem is not the capital of a Palestinian state.

Nevertheless, one must ponder, how can Judea/Samaria and perhaps Gaza be in a confederation with Jordan if the ruling government is opposed to such a deal? While the US cannot impose it, the Jordanian king may not be in power in the near future. Indeed, ongoing demonstrations indicate that Jordanians are increasingly disturbed by Hashemites mismanaging the economy and bowing to foreigners in order to sustain their own government's corruption. Given the domestic opposition the king has faced in recent months, if the Americans stop funding Jordan, the king will plausibly fall.

Turkish scholar Nur Koprulu notes that in Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood is traditionally an ally of the monarchy and has been used by the Hashemites to quash secular and leftist opposition. Should the Hashemites be overthrown, there is hope that a secular Jordanian Palestinian opposed to radical Islam has a shot at ruling the country and resurrecting the idea that Jordan is Palestine, just as Trump's deal of the century envisions.

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst based outside of Tel Aviv. She is a contributor to the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center and author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian female suicide bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."

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