Jordanian PM: If we were to let in Palestinians from Syria, Israel would try to send more of them our way

Hashemite kingdom, which holds general elections in two weeks, has closed its borders to ‘brethren’ fleeing Assad, fearing major influx

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (photo credit: AP)
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour (photo credit: AP)

Jordan will not allow Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria to enter the kingdom, for fear that doing so would encourage Israel to deport Palestinians to Jordan, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said on Thursday.

“There are those who want to absolve Israel once again of its responsibility for banishing Palestinians from their homes,” Ensour said in an extensive interview with the London-based Arab daily al-Hayat. “Jordan is not the place to solve Israel’s problems. Jordan has taken a sovereign and explicit decision not to allow Palestinians carrying Syrian [travel] documents to enter Jordan.”

In recent weeks, Jordan has begun turning away Palestinian refugees, Qatari news channel al-Jazeera reported earlier this week. Jordan will hold general elections on January 23, and fears of a Palestinian demographic domination — once hushed — are now being expressed in Jordan more openly.

“Receiving these brethren is a red line for us, because it will be a prelude for another wave of deportation, which is what the Israeli government wants,” Ensour added. “Our Palestinian brothers in Syria have rights in their country of origin, and they should remain there until the crisis is over.”

When asked about the possibility of a federation or confederation with the Palestinian state, the Jordanian prime minister was unequivocal.

“This is the best opportunity to declare publicly on behalf of the Jordanian government that there can be no talk of a federation or a confederation before Israel withdraws from all occupied land, including East Jerusalem… We must not absolve Israel of its responsibility for the Palestinian issue, and carry it on our shoulders alone.”

Knesset members on Israel’s right have rejected the idea of a Palestinian state, and have called for the application of Israeli law in the West Bank. Moshe Feiglin, ranked No. 22 on the Likud-Beytenu Knesset list, suggested — in a political conference January 1 — encouraging Palestinian emigration to the West Bank by giving every Palestinian family in the West Bank half a million dollars.

In the interview, Ensour also blasted his country’s Muslim Brotherhood for boycotting the upcoming elections and attempting to legally diminish the king’s authorities. He said that transferring authorities from the king to an elected parliament will not solve the crisis, since the Muslim Brotherhood mistrusts the parliament as well.

Ensour admitted that, in the past, Jordan’s intelligence agency tampered with election results at the behest of the Hashemite regime. He added, however, that ahead of this year’s vote, the king has ordered the country’s security not to intervene in the electoral process in any way.

“There will be no place for the mistakes committed in previous elections,” he said.

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