Media reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is advancing a plan for confederation with Jordan have sparked a flurry of negative reactions both in Jordan and in the Palestinian territories.
London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi reported last Thursday that Abbas held a closed meeting with seven Fatah and PA members earlier last week to discuss the imminent possibility of a confederate union with the Hashemite Kingdom. According to the report, Abbas asked his team to prepare a report on diplomatic possibilities for negotiating the confederation plan with Jordan, which he considered “among the supreme Palestinian interests.”
A confederation could be any of a number of political unions between the two bodies. The term differs from a federation, which features semi-independent states ruled by a single central government.
Jordanians are particularly sensitive to the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian union since Jordan officially relinquished its claim to the West Bank in 1988
Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh rushed to clarify that the idea of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation had already been raised in 1988, but could only materialize following complete Palestinian independence and a popular referendum on the matter.
Another member of the Palestinian leadership, PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu-Youssef, told al-Quds al-Arabi that mere talk of a confederation could block the road to Palestinian statehood on the 1967 borders, since “Israel currently plans to establish a [Palestinian] state and annex it to Jordan.”
Jordanians are particularly sensitive to the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian union since Jordan officially relinquished its claim to the West Bank in 1988. Many in the kingdom fear that Israel plans to turn Jordan into the alternative Palestinian homeland, considering its high Palestinian population.
“[Jordan] will become an alternative homeland not only for West Bank Palestinians but also for the Palestinians of Syria and Lebanon… We have disengaged from the West Bank and we don’t want it back; we will not allow any power in the universe to impose it upon us,” wrote Jordanian columnist Nahed Hattar in the independent daily al-Arab al-Yawm.
“The United States, Europe and Israel encourage the confederation between Jordan and the West Bank in order to transfer the burden of administering the ‘territories’ and their residents to Jordan.”
The Islamic Action Front, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood party, joined the voices of condemnation on Monday, chiding “the suspect calls for a federation or confederation between Jordan and parts of Palestine.”
“While we assert our faith in Arab and Islamic unity… we reject all calls for a federation or confederation before the liberation of Palestine and its people’s ownership of their national homeland.”