Monday, July 2, 2007

Jordanian role increasingly seen as crucial to peace process

"There are increasing signs, slowly but unmistakably, that the Jordanian option for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is once more assuming a central position on the agenda. Not necessarily along its original 'Jordan is Palestine' formula, but in a more sophisticated composition: Jordanian assistance to the Palestinians, the possibility of a confederation. This is no longer the preserve of people on the extreme right or of neo-conservatives, who have never supported the idea of creating a Palestinian state. These ideas are also being considered by more mainstream groups. Even more surprising, there are many senior Fatah members, exasperated with the likelihood that the Oslo process will yet yield results, who are also looking for a way out of the impasse.

A Palestinian source close to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Haaretz that he 'was not frightened' by these ideas. However, he also clarified that 'this is a sensitive matter. Of course, it is difficult to address it publicly.' In any case, at this stage, talks about the Jordanian option are held in unofficial channels and in secret.'.....

A diplomat who is familiar with Jordan said there is no reason to wish for a confederation at present. This may change, he added, if a chaotic situation in the West Bank begins to threaten stability. The diplomat said that Abdullah's reaction is an attempt to block an idea that is rapidly gaining supporters.'.....

In a few weeks the Hudson Institute, a neo-conservative think tank, will host a delegation of former senior Jordanian and Palestinian officials for an exchange on the relations between the PA and the Hashemite Kingdom. Last year, another right-wing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, hosted a similar dialogue, in which Jordan's former prime minister, Abdul Salam al-Majali, assessed that the idea of establishing a 'federation or a confederation' with Jordan was likely to be supported by 'a large number' of Palestinians......"

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