by Shimon Cohen
Orientalist Yoni Ben Menahem: Abdullah's threats designed to calm Pali unrest in his country; he wants IDF, not Palestinian state next door.
Abdallah King of Jordan (R) and Abbas ReutersThe issue of applying Israeli law in Judea and Samaria is receiving considerable public and political attention as Blue and White expresses concerns about Jordan's reaction to the move.
The fear has been reinforced in recent days by King Abdullah's statements implying that his country will look at all options as the collapse of the PA would create chaos.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva researcher, Orientalist, and media personality Yoni Ben Menachem addresses the King's warnings and concerns in the Israeli political arena, stating that the King's remarks are nothing more than lip service intended to calm the Palestinians in his country.
"King Abdullah is different from his father, King Hussein. He lives in constant fear and does not have an independent line that he leads in relations with Israel. Senior PA officials indicate that the PA itself also seriously doubts his intentions as he warns Israel and allegedly stands by the Palestinians.
"The PA reports off the record that it gives makes statements because it fears an intifada by Palestinians inside Jordan. So he rushed to warn Israel in sight of the Palestinians in Jordan. It is directed externally towards Israel, but the message is intended inward to Jordan itself."
Ben Menachem mentions that as early as 1988, in the midst of the first intifada, King Hussein's father announced that his country was disengaging from Judea and Samaria and had no territorial claims in these areas: "Senior Fatah officials believe he's trying to threaten Israel and show that he stands unilaterally alongside the Palestinians, but Jordan's given up all ties."
Analyzing the reasons for these statements by the Jordanian king, Ben Menachem says: "There's fear of unrest if he keeps silence. He fears that annexation of 30 percent of Judea and Samaria territories will encourage immigration from the West Bank to the East Bank within Jordan, and then increase their number of Palestinians. Another thing is that once Israel annexes the Palestinian territory, it will lose the possibility of establishing a state, then Israel's Right will say that Jordan is the alternative homeland; Arik Sharon's 'Jordan is Palestine' outline is very frightening to him."
Ben Menachem mentions his days as a Kol Yisrael correspondent during Arik Sharon's term as prime minister: "I then uncovered a secret conversation between Sharon and King Abdullah. There the King told him 'Don't pay attention to all my statements. I have to say things, but what I would like is for IDF soldiers to remain on the Jordanian border.' He doesn't want Palestinian soldiers there who can be a springboard to the east and bring about the change of Hashemite rule as it has been in the past."
In this context, Ben Menachem mentions that the Palestinian ambition is to establish a state on both sides of the Jordan. "King Abdullah knows this well, but he pays lip service to the Palestinians."
Ben Menachem also adds, pointing out the many benefits that the Hashemite kingdom receives following its agreement with Israel, advantages that no one would hurry to dispose of: "The visible things are the water that Israel provides and the gas agreement with Israel, but there's also the security issue that isn't being talked about. It's clear that if the Hashemite government is in trouble, as it used to be when there were threats from Syria, and Israel was called to the King's aid, he now knows that ultimately the one thing that can help him and prevent the collapse of his regime is the IDF and the political echelon that issues it directives.
"I do not think the King wants a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. He would also lose his position as guardian of the holy places in Jerusalem, a status that wasn't compromised in the Deal of the Century. This issue is very important to them as the royal family as they consider themselves descended from Prophet Muhammad. Beyond the fact that the King's grandfather was murdered by a Palestinian on the Temple Mount. All these things are well known to King Abdullah."
We also asked Ben Menachem if the very existence of Israeli discourse on the King's lip serve to the Palestinian community in Jordan may not lead to a hardening of his positions. Ben Menachem replies: "The King has his own interests and has his own set plan. He has everything planned and scheduled. He creates deliberate ambiguity when he doesn't specify what kind of clash he refers to, whether he will freeze the peace agreement, and whether he's talking about a military clash."
He further adds, though without elaborating for obvious reasons, that recently "there was a secret message from the King to Israel through the defense establishment even before the King came out in an interview with Der Spiegel."
Referring to the Israeli side, Ben Menachem says: "There are also Israeli considerations here regarding the U.S. elections. It's still unclear what President Trump wants. Does he want us to make the move before the election to help him with the Evangelicals or is he worried that this would create conflicts in the Middle East and hurt him? It remains unclear and cannot be better understood from the Pompeo visit. The picture will become clear in coming weeks, but there's a possibility that all annexation issues will be postponed until after the U.S. elections."
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