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Photo: AP/Jordanian Royal Palace
The Kings Abdullah: Jordan has rich friends
Photo: AP/Jordanian Royal Palace

Jordan fears new wave of Palestinian refugees

Already propped up by rich sponsors, the Hashemite Kingdom has been dealing with the global financial crisis and a war that cut off its preferred trade route.

The 20th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, October 26, saw the Hashemite Kingdom coping with a severe economic crisis and a no-less-difficult geopolitical challenge, each of which was feeding the other. Given this precarious position, Amman fears a mass migration of Palestinian refugees, which could deal a fatal blow to the regime.

 

 

A recent article in the Dayan Center's Iqtisadi journal, which covers the Middle East economies, Dan Poniachik wrote that annual growth in Jordan, which stood at 7.9% between 2005 and 2008, fell to 2.5% in 2010-2013. 

 

The global crisis of 2008 hit Jordan too. Foreign investment declined substantially, while inflation increased and unemployment grew, especially among the young. But the main cause for this economic downturn is the turmoil in Iraq and Syria. Jordan has in recent years taken in nearly 2 million refugees from these countries - an unbearable burden on the country's 6.5 million citizens.

 

Anti-Israel protests in Amman last week. (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Anti-Israel protests in Amman last week. (Photo: Reuters)

 

These refugees join the tens of thousands of Palestinians who moved from Jordan to the West Bank with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the mid-90s, but rushed back in the days of the Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005. In the West Bank today, many have permanent Jordanian citizenship or hold temporary Jordanian passports.

 

The war in Syria has dealt a severe blow to Jordan, who saw most of its trade with Europe pass through the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartus. Jordan tried to replace them with the Suez Canal, but high costs ultimately forced them into using Haifa port. Since 2011, some 20,000 Jordanian and Turkish trucks have travelled from Haifa to Jordan via the Jordanian border crossing near Beit She'an (beyond the Sheikh Hussein Bridge).

 

Wealthy friends

Despite everything, the Jordanian rule has held – primarily thanks to massive financial support from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, the United States and the European Union.

 

However, according to Prof. Asher Susser of Tel Aviv University, "the Jordanian nightmare" is a collapse of the West Bank that would bring to Jordan another wave of refugees. Palestinians already comprise about 70% of Jordan's citizens and are integrated into political and economic life.

 

Netanyahu and King Abdullah meeting in Jordan
Netanyahu and King Abdullah meeting in Jordan

 

Previous waves of immigration by Israeli Arabs almost toppled the Hashemite regime: after 1948 the Palestinian underground murdered King Abdullah I, and after the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jordanian army was forced to wage war on the Palestinian organizations loyal to the PLO.

 

 

With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that the Jordanian regime is pressuring Israel to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount, and prevent any further crises that could destabilize the regime in Amman.

 


פרסום ראשון: 11.12.14, 20:28
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