Jordan could support Israeli-Palestinian binational state, its PM says

But such a country would have to ensure equal democratic rights for all its citizens, stresses PM Omar Razzaz

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz speaks at the Jordan Growth and Opportunity Conference in London, February 28, 2019. (Toby Melville/PA via AP)
Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz speaks at the Jordan Growth and Opportunity Conference in London, February 28, 2019. (Toby Melville/PA via AP)

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said his country could possibly back a single Israeli-Palestinian state, if it offered equal rights to all citizens.

Speaking to the UK Guardian newspaper in an interview published Tuesday, Razzaz said a binational state could, under those circumstances, be an alternative to the two-state solution that currently forms the basis of international expectations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The proposed one-state format comes as Israel plans to extend sovereignty to areas of the West Bank, as allowed under US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal, which envisions Palestinian rule and eventually a state on the remaining territory. Critics say Israeli intentions to unilaterally annex settlements in the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley, some 30 percent of the territory, would end the possibility of a viable two-state solution.

“You close the door to the two-state solution, I could very well look at this positively, if we’re clearly opening the door to a one-state democratic solution,” Razzaz said.

“But nobody in Israel is talking about that, and so we cannot just sugar-coat what they’re doing,” Razzaz said. “Who’s talking about the one-state solution in Israel? They’re talking about apartheid in every single sense.”

“I challenge anybody from Israel to say yes, let’s end the two-state solution, it’s not viable,” he said. “But let’s work together on a one-state democratic solution. That, I think, we will look at very favorably. But closing one and wishful thinking about the other is just self-deception.”

Supporters of the one-state solution say it would end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but opponents dismiss the plan as an attempt to transform Israel from a Jewish-majority country to a Palestinian-majority one.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a campaign address next to a map of proposed areas of the West Bank for annexation on September 10, 2019. (screen capture: Facebook)

Israel annexation, Razzaz said, is “ushering in a new apartheid state” that could destabilize and radicalize the region.

“The way we see it, anything short of a viable two-state solution is going to push not just Jordan, not just Palestine, not just Israel, but the region and the world into chaos,” he said, speaking in Amman.

Jordan opposes any unilateral actions, he said.

“We are against any steps that are not within an overall scheme that leads to a two-state solution,” he said. “Short of that, if we’re not going towards a two-state solution, let us know what we’re going towards, what kind of one-state solution we’re going towards.”

He warned Israel could become increasingly isolated in not just the region, but also the global community, if it pushes ahead with annexation, drawing a parallel with international attitudes toward South Africa when it was under an apartheid regime.

“South Africa was not a problem for its neighboring countries; South Africa was a problem for the world. If Israel continues on this track, it’s going to be a problem for the world,” he said.

View of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank on June 17, 2020. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

Razzaz also ruled out any integration of Palestinians into Jordan as part of an agreement to end the conflict.

“Jordan will not absorb transfers of Palestinians,” Razzaz stressed. “Jordan will not become ‘the’ Palestine, as the Israeli extreme right wishes. And Jordan will not give up its custodianship over [holy Muslim and Christian sites in] Jerusalem. These three are clear for us.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned annexation has recently disappeared from the headlines amid a resurgent coronavirus and a hesitant White House. Netanyahu had vowed to begin the process at the start of July, but efforts have apparently stalled amid internal wrangling and a lack of a green light from Washington.

There has been fierce international criticism of the proposed move, much of it coming from Europe along with Jordan and other Arab states.

Jordan has reportedly made clear to Israel that it will not accept even a limited annexation of West Bank land. The kingdom has threatened to abrogate or downgrade its 1994 peace treaty with Israel if the annexation goes ahead and King Abdullah is said to be so infuriated at Israel’s intentions that he has stopped accepting calls from Netanyahu.

A similar stance has been expressed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has threatened a harsh response if Israel annexes even an “inch.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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