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Jordan's King Abdullah Photo: AFP
Jordan's King Abdullah Photo: AFP
 
 

Bring Jordan into equation

Israel should shift responsibility for West Bank’s Palestinians to Jordan

Guy Bechor
Published: 02.09.10, 00:45 / Israel Opinion

Just like it’s much clearer today that Gaza belongs to Egypt more than it belongs to Israel, as the Egyptians shut down the smuggling tunnels with a steel wall and open the Rafah Crossing, the time has come for the next phase in Israel’s disengagement from the chronic troubles that weigh it down. The time has come for Jordan to reclaim its historic role in respect to affairs in its West Bank.

 

The Jordanians are screaming at every global platform, and rightfully so, that the Palestinian process must be advanced. If so, they should act on it as well. The time has come for them to also enlist to the cause. Israel did Jordan a favor in 1967 when it detached it from the Palestinian trouble, just like it did Egyptians a favor by detaching them from Gaza. This Israeli folly must end, at once.

 

The Jordanians are of course frightened by the prospect of going back to handling Palestinian affairs, just like the Egyptians were frightened and did everything to ensure that Israel does not disengage from the Philadelphi Route - but there is no escaping this. A tiny Palestinian state will not be viable, unless it has a direct and clear link to Jordan, which is home to a solid Palestinian majority in any case and where the heir to the throne himself is half-Palestinian.

 

How can Israel do this? By opening the Allenby Crossing to a direct Jordanian-Palestinian connection, with no Israeli involvement. The moment this happens, all the security and political responsibility will shift to the Jordanians, a reality we’ve spared them for almost three and a half decades.

 

Yes, this may lead to terrorism, yet we know how to handle terror, as the IDF proved a year ago in Operation Cast Lead, when it pulverized Hamas and created deterrence for dozens of years to come. Today we also have the security fence.

 

Continuing to take responsibility for the wellbeing of hostile Palestinians is no longer Israel’s business. The time has come to bring Jordan too into the equation, just like Egypt has been brought into the Gaza equation.

 

A natural move

Being a responsible country that maintains ties with Israel, we can believe that Jordan will thwart any security problem – not for Israel’s sake, but rather, because such problems would undermine Jordan’s national security - just like Egypt is doing at this time with its steel wall. The Allenby Bridge will constitute Jordan’s link with the Palestinians, and Israel’s security responsibility there will be lifted completely. Israel itself will use the other crossing points into Jordan.

 

By doing that, the relationship between Jordan and the Palestinians will revert to being direct, without moving any Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. These issues are unconnected. The Jordanians and Palestinians will be responsible for Arab affairs, and it would be natural for them to meet without Israeli involvement.

 

Nobody would be able to object to such natural move, and then, should the Jordanians wish to do so, they would agree to a Palestinian state. Yet if they would not wish to do so, they would not agree to it. It will be an intra-Arab affair; just like the Egyptians can accept or not accept a Palestinian state in Gaza.

 

Opening the Allenby Crossing to free Jordanian-Palestinian association will create an interaction which we, erroneously, prevented until now. At this time, the IDF is deployed at the Allenby Crossing – it seals it off, secures it, screens, and interrogates. Every Palestinian who comes and goes is subjected to strict Israeli scrutiny. Yet following the move proposed here, there will no longer be any kind of Israeli regulation – both Jordan and the Palestinians will likely be happy to see this, and the security burden as well as international liability will shift to Jordan.

 

The time has come for Israel to stop performing the dirty work for Jordan’s sake, just as it stopped doing it for the Egyptians. Just like responsibility for Gaza has returned, in practice, to Egypt, responsibility for the West Bank must return to the East Bank. And whatever they decide to do on both banks is their own business. 

 

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