search

Jordan’s king warns of ‘massive conflict’ if Israel annexes land in West Bank

Abdullah does not rule out suspending peace deal with the Jewish state, insists two-state solution ‘the only way forward’

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)
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)

Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned that should Israel move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, it would lead to a “massive conflict” with his country, and did not rule out pulling out of Amman’s peace deal with the Jewish state.

In an interview published Friday by the German daily Der Spiegel, Abdullah insisted that a two-state solution was “the only way forward” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” he said, when asked by his interviewer about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to “take advantage of the opportunity that [US President Donald] Trump has created to seize large parts of Palestine.”

“I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East,” the king added, when asked if his country — one of only two Arab nations, along with Egypt, to have signed a peace deal with Israel — could suspend that treaty.

Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament, on January 15, 2020, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Frederick Florin/AFP)

Jordan has a large Palestinian population and is deeply invested in promoting a two-state solution. “Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean,” he told the German daily.

The king’s comments echoed remarks he made in a September 2019 interview, warning that a West Bank annexation would have “a major impact on the Israeli-Jordanian relationship.” At the time, he stopped short of threatening to cut diplomatic ties.

More recently, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi reportedly urged his counterparts in several countries to dissuade Jerusalem from its annexation plans. Implementing them would be “devastating,” would mark the death of a two-state solution, and could have explosive consequences for the region, he was said to have warned his interlocutors. But again, no word about ending the peace deal.

Friday’s interview was published hours before European Union foreign ministers were set to meet virtually to consider potential measures against Israel over its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

Jordan has been lobbying the EU to take “practical steps” to make sure annexation doesn’t happen. In a statement, Safadi “stressed the need for the international community and the European Union in particular to take practical steps that reflect the rejection of any Israeli decision to annex.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell listens during a press conference after a meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, January 31, 2020. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Several European nations led by France, and including Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg, have reportedly expressed support for threats of punitive action in a bid to deter the new Israeli government — set to be sworn in on Sunday — from carrying out the move with a green light from Washington.

On Tuesday EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said annexation plans and the union’s response to them would be “the most important item on the agenda” of the meeting.

The EU bloc is Israel’s largest trading partner, grants Israel favored trading status, and helps fund Israeli scientific research and development through its massive Horizon 2020 program.

As part of their coalition agreement, Netanyahu and Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz agreed that the government can begin moving forward with applying Israeli sovereignty to settlements and the Jordan Valley after July 1, a move expected to enjoy backing from a majority of lawmakers in the Knesset.

Annexation of settlements and the Jordan Valley — some 30 percent of the West Bank — has been a key campaign promise of Netanyahu and his Likud party in recent elections. A plurality of slightly fewer than half of Israelis back the idea, and fewer than a third think the government will actually go through with it, according to a survey of Israelis released Sunday.

Netanyahu’s plan to annex portions of the West Bank has been met with harsh criticism from nearly the entire international community, including Washington’s European allies and key Arab partners. President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan allows for the possibility of US recognition of such annexations provided Israel agrees to negotiate under the framework of the proposal that was unveiled in January.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem residence, May 13, 2020 (Kobi Gideon/PMO)

According to the proposed plan, the US will recognize an Israeli application of sovereignty over parts of the West Bank following the completion of a survey conducted by a joint US-Israel mapping committee and Israel’s acceptance of both a four-year freeze of the areas earmarked for a future Palestinian state and a commitment to negotiate with the Palestinians based on the terms of Trump’s peace deal.

Alone among most governments, the Trump administration has said it will support the annexation of West Bank territory claimed by the Palestinians for an eventual state as long as Israel agrees to enter peace talks.

US Ambassador David Friedman said last week that Washington is ready to recognize Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank should it be declared in the coming weeks.

read more:
comments