President Trump’s decision to close the PLO mission in Washington, cancel the visas of the Palestinian ambassador and his family and order their bank accounts be closed – mark the PLO’s final humiliation for condemning Trump’s proposed peace plan before its contents have even been published.
Strangely however the United States still maintains that direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO are the only way forward.
The PLO will be fortified by this latest statement – mistakenly believing it:
- remains in the box seat to stymie any peace plan Trump wheels out,
- can blunt Trump’s reputation as a highly successful deal maker and
- reinforces the PLO’s right to continue as sole spokesman for the Palestinian Arabs although Hamas governs Gaza and Jordan exercises sovereignty in 78 per cent of former Palestine.
Jordan remains the key to resolving – with Israel – Trump’s plans involving the future of the West Bank for the following reasons:
- Transjordan occupied the West Bank from 1948 to 1967.
- Transjordan and the West Bank were unified in 1950, the new entity was renamed “Jordan” and Jordanian citizenship was extended to the West Bank Arab population
- Jordan continued to retain legal and administrative control and extend citizenship between 1967 and 1988 until King Hussein announced Jordan’s termination of its role in the West Bank in the PLO’s favour for the following reasons:
“Lately, it has transpired that there is a general Palestinian and Arab orientation which believes in the need to highlight the Palestinian identity in full in all efforts and activities that are related to the Palestine question and its developments. It has also become clear that there is a general conviction that maintaining the legal and administrative links with the West Bank, and the ensuing Jordanian interaction with our Palestinian brothers under occupation through Jordanian institutions in the occupied territories, contradicts this orientation. It is also viewed that these links hamper the Palestinian struggle to gain international support for the Palestinian cause of a people struggling against foreign occupation.
In view of this line of thought, which is certainly inspired by genuine Palestinian will, and Arab determination to support the Palestinian cause, it becomes our duty to be part of this direction, and to respond to its requirements…” …
- Jordan’s retirement from the West Bank moved Abu Iyad – PLO-leader Yassar Arafat’s deputy – to declare on 15 December 1989:
“I say that on the day immediately following the establishment of the Palestinian State, we will begin unity with Jordan. I am not concerned what kind of unity this may be, because we are one people and have the same history. You cannot make a distinction between a Jordanian and a Palestinian. It is true that we encourage unity between Arab peoples, but the relation between Jordan and Palestine in particular is clearly distinctive; all those who tried in the past and are still trying to create divisions between the Jordanian and Palestinian people have failed. We indeed constitute one people… when the Palestinian state and unity is established … The Jordanian will be a Palestinian and the Palestinian a Jordanian”Reunification of the West Bank with Jordan never required the creation of a second Palestinian Arab State in the West Bank – in addition to Jordan.
Reunification of a large part of the West Bank with Jordan is now once again tantalisingly within Jordan’s grasp following Trump’s spectacular undermining of the PLO after it defiantly refused to negotiate on Trump’s still-unannounced peace plan.
Trump will not be pandering to the PLO and repeating the same mistakes made by former American presidents.
(Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article – is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog)