Trump’s Mideast peace plan sparks surge of anger in Jordan

Jordanian King Abdullah cautioned that Jordan would reject the proposal if it impinged on Jordanian national interests.
Sunday 02/02/2020
Jordanians protest against the Deal of the Century in Amman. (Roufan Nahhas)
Show of anger. Jordanians protest against the Deal of the Century in Amman. (Roufan Nahhas)

AMMAN - US President Donald Trump’s announcement of the so-called Deal of the Century to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provoked anger and denunciation in Jordan, home for the largest Palestinian refugee community with scores holding dual Jordanian-Palestinian nationality.

Heavy security measures were imposed around the US Embassy in Abdoun, an up-scale residential area in Amman where hundreds of protesters rallied to express condemnation of the plan and call on Arab countries to reject it.

“Palestine is not for sale” and “America is the head of terrorism,” read banners carried by protesters who said the US plan would exacerbate tensions in the region.

“This is an outrage. The deal will collapse and it will never find support from Jordanians and Palestinians. We have said repeatedly that we will never abandon Jerusalem and our land. The deal has been fabricated to suit Israel and the world should understand clearly that we refuse it,” said Ziad Tabazah, 45, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin.

“The world should know that we need peace as well as our rights. The deal does not mean anything to us and we will continue fighting. It was clear that Trump cares only about Israel’s security, so how can we trust him?”

Protesters in various parts of Jordan blasted the deal, which they said was an “assassination of the peace process and will push the region into more extremism.”

In Baqaa camp, home to 104,000 Palestinian refugees north of Amman, large rallies called on Jordanian King Abdullah II, custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, to reject the scheme because it deprives Palestinians of their basic rights.

King Abdullah cautioned that Jordan would reject the proposal if it impinged on Jordanian national interests. “Our position is perfectly well known. We will not agree to proposals that come at our expense and our position on the Palestinian cause is clear,” he said.

Hasan Najjar, 65, a retired Jordanian serviceman of Palestinian origin, said it is illogical to call Trump’s plan a “deal.”

“When we talk about deals, we talk about two parties, in this case the Palestinians and Israelis, but if the Palestinians reject the plan then there is no deal! Conspiracies against the Palestinians have never stopped and will continue, yet, we will spare no effort to abort them,” said Najjar, a native of Jerusalem.

“We, as Palestinian refugees, still dream of the day we go back to our homeland. This is the legacy that we inherited and that in our turn will leave to our children and grandchildren. Whether it was the so-called Sykes-Picot Agreement or the Trump-Netanyahu plan, Palestinians will withstand political repressions,” Najjar said.

Protesters called for the ouster of the Israeli ambassador and cancellation of Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Amid the commotion, Mohammed Eid, 71, quietly sipped tea at a cafe in Amman and considered the announced plan.

“After all these years they come up with this?” he asked. “No, thank you. We prefer to stay as we are and fight our own way. I heard the announcement but did not care much about it because it concerns Israel only, it does not involve Palestinians. That is why I think they are talking to themselves.”

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi reaffirmed Jordan’s long-standing position on the conflict, which calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war with East Jerusalem as its capital as “the only path to a comprehensive and lasting peace.”

“The national interests of Jordan and its unwavering position on the Palestinian issue govern the way in which the government deals with all proposals and initiatives aimed at resolving the conflict. The Palestinian issue is the foremost Arab issue and Jordan will coordinate with Palestinians and Arab countries in addressing future developments,” Safadi said.

The Deal of the Century calls for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of East Jerusalem and recognises Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocks in the West Bank, which the United Nations consider illegal and violations of international Law.