Abdul Hameed Al-Ghabin – “a Saudi writer and a political and tribal figure” – has challenged Jordan to negotiate with Israel on President Trump’s “deal of the century” – or risk losing control of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem currently vested in Jordan under the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty and the Washington Declaration.
Al-Ghabin’s views have – significantly – been published by an Israeli newspaper. Saudi Arabia’s rulers have not condemned Al-Ghabin or disavowed his views – indicating that Al-Ghabin’s message could represent Saudi Arabia’s official position.
“There is a major issue of contention: the future of the Palestinians and their right to self-determination. It is important and logical to us that Palestinians should have a state at the end of a peace process. However, anti-peace forces litter our region. An example of such a force is, sadly, the Kingdom of Jordan”.Al-Ghabin asks:
“How can we achieve peace if the Palestinian people remain without a place to call home?”Al-Ghabin’s answer will assuredly jolt Jordan – and the United Nations – out of their long running historical, geographical and demographical memory loss:
“The answer is simple: Jordan is already 78 per cent of historical Palestine. Jordanians of Palestinian origin constitute more than 80 percent of the population according to U.S. intelligence cables leaked in 2010. Jordan is essentially already the Palestinian Arab state. The only problem is, the king of Jordan refuses to acknowledge this.The sting in the tail is Al-Ghabin’s warning that Jordan’s custodianship of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – created under article 9(2) of the Israel- Jordan Peace Treaty – could be ended if Jordan does not play ball.
Nonetheless, the world will eventually recognize Jordan as the address for Palestinian statehood—and perhaps sooner than we think. We don’t know if the Jordanian royal family will still be in power when Jordan officially becomes Palestine, but we do know that if the royal family leaves and the Palestinian majority takes over, Jordan will officially become their homeland and we Arabs won’t feel guilty normalizing relations with Israel as another regional state.”
Al-Ghabin is ruthless in his criticism of Jordan’s monarch – King Abdullah:
“As for the Al-Aqsa mosque, we have been financing it for over 70 years now. Saudi Arabia has donated billions of dollars to Jordan’s king and his father and grandfather, all in the name of “protecting” and “maintaining” Al-Aqsa. A quick look at the holy site is enough to show everyone that the king of Jordan has neither been maintaining nor protecting the site. The mosque is in a miserable state and unrest is always being stirred up there by the king’s appointed guards and loyalists.Abdullah has repeatedly called for the creation of a second Arab state in former Palestine – in addition to Jordan – claiming Middle East peace is only possible with the creation of such an additional State.
We don’t need this, nor do the Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, Saudi Arabia could offer a proper custodianship of Al-Aqsa, under a new arrangement that secures the freedom of worship at the site for all. Our country has managed the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina for almost 100 years now, in the most efficient fashion. We welcome Iranian pilgrims and offer them generous services, despite Iran’s hostility and the fact that they belong to the Shiite sect”.
Al-Ghabin – and by extension Saudi Arabia – has signalled an alternative solution that might well be Trump’s proposed solution.
Abdullah needs to publicly commit to negotiating with Israel on whatever solution Trump proposes – or risk facing the unpleasant consequences telegraphed by Saudi Arabia.
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