The Return of the Jordanian Option
by Leon T. Hadar
"......But what if the road to Jerusalem runs through Amman? The instability in Palestine could help revive what has been referred to as the Jordanian Option, the notion that Jordan can play a political and military role in the West Bank, which it ruled from 1949 until 1967, potentially expanding into Gaza. This should be not be perceived as a return to the 1950 unification of the Jordanian and Palestinian territories, carried out by the king after a fixed parliamentary vote taken at the "request" of Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. Nor should the Jordanian Option's revival reflect the wishful thinking of some Israeli leaders. These leaders hope that Israel can continue to rule the West Bank and to establish Jewish settlements there while its Palestinian residents vote in the Jordanian parliamentary elections.
Instead, a sustainable Jordanian Option should follow the lines of the proposal for a West Bank–Jordan confederation, first advanced by the late King Hussein in 1982. In fact, King Hussein's proposal was discussed by the Palestine National Council at Algiers in February 1983, and the principle of a Palestinian–Jordanian confederation was approved on the condition that both members of the confederation would be independent states. Hussein's initiative led to a 1985 accord between Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), forming a confederation to conduct peace negotiations with Israel.
However, the PLO eventually rejected the idea of a joint peace initiative because it refused to allow peace negotiations to be conducted under the auspices of UN Security Council Resolution 242. The United States also opposed the plan because it did not want to hold negotiations with the PLO in the context of an international conference.
But times have changed. Now, both Israel and the United States recognize the PLO as a legitimate negotiating party, and the PLO accepts UN Resolution 242, which laid down the principles for a "just and lasting peace" in the Middle East. Furthermore, Jordan has abandoned its attempts to extend its control over the West Bank, and the international community negotiates directly with the Palestinians.
A revitalized role for Jordan in Palestine and in the peace process with Israel could be beneficial to all sides. Jordan's diplomatic, economic and military apparatus could provide the Palestinians with a powerful structure to revive the West Bank's economy, to establish order and to renew negotiations with Israel. Moreover, Jordan, which has signed a peace agreement with Israel and maintains diplomatic relations with it, could establish a military presence in the West Bank — a move that would have to be backed by the Arab League and the UN. Jordan could also work to secure the final borders between Palestine and Israel. In the context of negotiations between Jordan–Palestine and Israel, Gaza would be encouraged to join the talks as troops from the Arab League, led by Egypt and the UN, established order in the territory......"