Jordan’s Abdullah: West Bank annexation would have ‘major impact’ on ties

King assesses Netanyahu’s pledge for Jordan Valley as ‘electioneering,’ warns one-state solution with different laws for Jews would be ‘apartheid’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, during the former's surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014. (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, during the former's surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014. (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/File)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II says that any future Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank would have a “major impact” on Jerusalem’s ties with his country and Egypt, the only two Arab states with which Israel has peace treaties, and warned that a one-state solution would amount to “apartheid.”

After the new Israeli government is formed, “all of us, members of our region and the international community, will jump on board to say, ‘Can we focus back on the two-state solution?'” the Jordanian royal said in an MSNBC interview broadcast Monday.

“If it’s a one-state solution as you [the interviewer] alluded to, then we are talking about an apartheid future for Israel, which I think would be a catastrophe for all of us,” he said.

Asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement prior to the elections that he would annex parts of the West Bank, Abdullah said: “I take a pinch of salt with all electioneering.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley as he gives a statement, promising to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

“But a statement like that does not help at all because what you do is hand over the narrative to the worst people in our neighborhood,” he said, referring to Netanyahu’s annexation pledge.

“And then, we that want peace tend to be more isolated. If the policy is to annex the West Bank, then that is going to have a major impact on the Israeli-Jordanian relationship and also on the Egyptian-Israeli relationship, because we are the two only Arab countries that have peace with Israel.”

Abdullah added that if “a certain government” gets everything it wants without giving anything in return, that would jeopardize the prospect of a future in which the Israelis and Palestinians live in peace.

“If we are talking about an apartheid Israel with laws that are different for Jews and different for Christians and Muslims, that will continue to add fuel to the disruption in the Middle East.”

Netanyahu’s pledges to annex parts of the West Bank drew opprobrium, with critics saying that fulfilling those promises could deal a final blow to any hopes for a two-state solution to the conflict.

The prime minister said he would annex the Jordan Valley area (some 25 percent of the West Bank) immediately he formed a new government, and then later, in coordination with the US, would annex “all the settlements” in the West Bank, the Jewish enclaves in Hebron and other unspecified “vital” areas.

Critics contend that Netanyahu’s pledges, if carried out, would inflame the Middle East and eliminate any remaining Palestinian hope of establishing a separate state. His political rivals have dismissed his talk of annexation as an election ploy, noting that he has refrained from annexing any territory during his more than a decade in power.

Palestinian Bedouin homes in the Jordan Valley, on September 11, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron and Abdullah said they “shared concern” over Netanyahu’s plans and reiterated their position that “there is no alternative to a two-state solution.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to cancel any existing agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the move, and Amman has warned that extending sovereignty would kill the already moribund peace process and could affect the peace treaty between the countries.

The prospect of keeping control of the Jordan Valley enjoys wide backing in Israel, where it is widely considered a key security asset because it provides a buffer zone against potential attacks from the east.

Palestinians, however, say there can be no independent state that doesn’t control the border. With annexation they would lose a fertile area, which is home to many Palestinian farms and is one of the few remaining areas of the West Bank with open space for development.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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