By MUDAR ZAHRAN \10/22/2012
On October 9, former crown prince of Jordan, Prince Hassan, told a group of Palestinians in Amman that “the West Bank is a part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which included both banks of the [Jordan] River.”
Hassan added that: “I hope that I do not live to see the day when Jordan, or the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, relinquishes the land occupied in 1967 by the IDF.”
Prince Hassan’s comments come at a very critical time for the ruling Hashemite family in Jordan, with regular anti-regime protests sweeping their kingdom, open calls for toppling the king and a staggering economy. The unrest in Jordan is often overlooked by the global media, as they are occupied with bloodshed in Syria and the trouble in Egypt.
In fact, the weekly anti-regime protests in Jordan are mainly coming from Jordanian East-Bankers, or Beduin Jordanians. The last major one took place on October 5; an unprecedented anti-regime march which took place in the capital Amman, and where the Palestinian majority and refugee camps took place in the protests for the first time.
What might have been the most alarming issue for the king and his uncle Hassan is the fact that that march marked the beginning of the Palestinian majority’s participation in the anti-regime protests, which opened the window for a true revolution to come if both East Bankers and Palestinians join forces against the regime.
Therefore, the Hashemite regime has been running around like a headless chicken; first claiming the October 5 mega-march was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan, thus sustaining the Hashemite’s claim that “it is either them or the Muslim Brotherhood ruling Jordan,” playing on the fear factor for Israel and pro-Israel forces in the West. Nonetheless, Jordanian media itself reported 78 Jordanian and Palestinian political factions were involved in the protest, of which the Muslim Brotherhood was only one.
Furthermore, the Hashemite Kingdom’s media sources tried to play down the number of protesters who participated in October 5 march; claiming it was as low as 5,000. Still, prominent Jordanian daily newspaper Alghad slipped up and quoted a Jordanian security official saying “250,000” people were seen marching toward the protest location in downtown Amman.
In other words, the Hashemites are in trouble, and they are not necessarily immune to the Arab Spring tsunami streaming through the region. Therefore, Prince Hassan’s statement was most likely made out of desperation: he wants to export the Hashemites’ trouble to Israel by reviving the alleged Hashemite right to the West Bank. At the same time, Hassan is trying to appeal to the Palestinian majority, telling there might be a possible arrangement whereby they are absorbed. At the moment, the Palestinian majority in Jordan is excluded from government jobs, state college education and state healthcare.
Should the regime in Jordan fall or the king’s powers be compromised, the Palestinian majority will take over. Whether it’s a he or a she, an Islamist or a moderate, whoever is in charge will be a Palestinian. The possibility that Prince Hassan is trying to sweet-talk the Palestinians and to remind them that the Hashemites had ties to the West Bank is a sign of how desperate Hassan and his nephew, the king of Jordan, might be.
Meanwhile, by making such statements, Hassan ignores basic historical fact. The map of British Mandate for Palestinian which was commissioned to Great Britain in 1919 by the League of Nations included all of today’s Israel and today’s Jordan.
Hassan simply ignores the Faisal-Weizmann agreement which his clan signed in 1919, by which Jews agreed to give up 78 percent of the British Mandate for Palestine promised to them by Great Britain as a future Jewish homeland. That compromise was made by world Jewry then for a clear reason: Establishing a homeland for the Arabs in the area under the Hashemites.
Today, and according to UN reports on refugees’ rights, the Hashemite regime tells its Palestinian majority that they are merely “refugees who should return to Palestine,” while in reality, Jordan is a Hashemite-occupied part of the British Mandate for Palestine, which Jews have given up in exchange of an un-fulfilled promise of peace.
Furthermore, in 1948, when the Hashemites occupied the area West of the River Jordan, to be renamed the West Bank, the Arab League itself did not recognize Hashemite sovereignty over that land nor did the world or the UN. In fact only three countries recognized the Hashemite rule over the West Bank as legitimate: the United Kingdom and Pakistan in addition to the then Hashemite-ruled Iraq.
The King of Jordan and his uncle better realize that picking on Israel will not get them a revolution-free pass from their discriminated against and disenfranchised Palestinian majority or their angry East Bankers. The Hashemites should also relinquish any dreams of sovereignty over any part of Israel; in fact they should count themselves very lucky if they manage to maintain their rule over Jordan, where many of their subjects view them as occupiers.
The writer is Palestinian-Jordanian writer who resides in the UK as a political refugee.