Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel, who subsequently served as the kingdom’s foreign minister, has said that the two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer a possibility and that Amman needs to change its approach to relations given Jerusalem’s hardline government.
“We are dealing with a religiously and ethnically extremist Israeli government…which is impossible to be flexible and adaptive to,” Marwan Muasher said, according to an unofficial translation of an Radio Al-Balad interview this week published on the Ammanet website.
“The old tools that Jordan used to deal with the Israeli government no longer work on this government,” Muasher said, adding that Amman needed to change its approach and stop working with Israel “diplomatically and flexibly.”
“When extremism is the byword of the government, diplomatic tools do not work on it. This government does not give any weight to diplomatic tools,” Muasher said. “And if the government is extremist from two angles, ethnically extremist and religiously extremist? Never before in the history of Israel has there been such a government, in which some of its members openly believe that Palestinians have no right to exist, and define the Land of Israel as including Jordan and Palestine.”
Last month, Jordan summoned the Israeli envoy in protest of far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s speech at a conference in Paris, during which he claimed the Palestinian people are an “invention” while standing behind a map of “Greater Israel” that includes modern-day Jordan. Days earlier, Smotrich stirred international outrage with a call to “wipe out” a Palestinian town in the West Bank following the killing of two Israeli brothers in a terror attack.
The former envoy also said that Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel “needs to be reviewed.”
“We are still acting within the Oslo Accords that ended 30 years ago, and it is clear that the Palestinian state is not in the process of being established. Hence there is a national need to review Jordan’s accounts,” he said.
Muasher also claimed there was a risk that Israel would forcibly transfer Palestinians.
“There is a real danger. Israel does not want a Palestinian state to stand in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and it does not want there to be a Palestinian majority in the lands it controls,” said the former envoy.
“It is clear that this government does not recognize the right of Palestinians to exist on their land. So there is only one solution left: transfer, which directly affects Jordanian national security. We are incredibly concerned with this issue because it is not only a Palestinian-Israeli issue but also a Jordanian issue par excellence,” he said.
Muasher said any potential transfer would then pose a threat to internal Jordanian security.
Last month, Muasher published a piece on the website of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in which he clearly stated that he believed there was no longer hope for a two-state solution.
“It is time to admit what has been obvious for a few years: the two-state solution to end the Palestinian-Israel conflict is dead and cannot be revived. The longer the international community clings to this impossible solution, the deeper the hole it digs for itself, and it will have to start dealing with a potentially more difficult problem of the daily violation of Palestinian rights in the occupied territories,” Muasher said in the comments published last month.
In the more recent interview, he said that holding on to the possibility of a two-state solution was simply buying more time for Israeli settlements to become further entrenched in the West Bank.
“Dragging out the two-state solution without backing it up and planning to translate it into reality gives Israel more time to build settlements and bury this solution that we all support,” he said.
Muasher also said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government’s contentious plan to shackle the judiciary with its overhaul would mean that Israel would no longer be able to call itself a democratic state.
“Israel marketed itself to the world and to itself as a democratic state with separation of powers and balance of powers, which does not allow one power to dominate the other. But today Israel is trying to weaken the judiciary through executive and legislative control of the judicial branch. This negates the basis any state has to call itself a democratic regime,” he said.
“Israel cannot say that it is a state with a democratic regime anymore. The United States cannot say that Israel is a democratic state anymore. However, as I said, this division does not include Palestinians yet. The Israeli protesters chanted the slogan of ‘democracy for everyone,’ but this ‘everyone’ for them is the Jewish ‘everyone’ and not all citizens of Israel,” Muasher said.
Muasher became Jordan’s first diplomatic envoy to Israel in 1995, a year after the peace agreement was signed. He served until 1996, after which he served in many senior political positions, including ambassador to the United States in 1997-2002 and foreign minister in 2002-2004. Having quit politics in 2010, he is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.