by Ido Patcher, The Israel Initiative
An article published in the weekend edition of “Makor Rishon” reveals quiet diplomatic activities that match the Israeli Initiative’s vision. Writer Assaf Gibor interviewed Ahmed Abu-Mashour, a Sheik from the Beduin tribe of Jahelin, whose population is spread from Jerusalem to eastern Jordan. Mashour said he is disappointed with the Palestinian Authority, and explained what Jordan’s peace plan is. Here are some exceprts from the article:
The Sheik Abu-Mashour is a traditional leader. He is from the school that led Arab-Palestinian civilians before Fatah hawks and took over, before the PLO was imported from Tunis…In his eyes, the past leadership is the future leadership. A Palestinian state? Only in the donor-countries’ dreams, countries that encourage PA leaders. The alternative, old-new leadership, is already in place. The Sheikh of Jahelin says there are those who understand this, like King Abdullah of Jordan.
Although the official line of the Hashemite Kingdom is to praise the Palestinian State as the only way to peace, they are putting together an entirely different plan, which they think is better. The solution is more traditional, with a deep historical basis that suits the rules of the Middle East. In short: A cooperative, Israeli-Jordanian rule in Arab areas of Judea and Samaria; Palestinian autonomy, with Jordanian civilian sponsorship, and Israeli security supervision.
“There is cooperation to create an alternative to the PA, between the Jordanian monarchy and Palestinian Sheikhs,” Mashour says. “The Jordanians want to renew their direct connection to those who really have an influence.”
He says that the Hashemite Kingdom agrees that the PA’s leadership is not serious. “The king lost his faith in the PA and the PLO. He is interested in renewing the connections his father initiated with local sheikhs. This is a direct connection, and the sheiks’ word is a commitment. The king knows that the PA has no real base and no real hold. The security forces and the police receive a salary, as do the ministers who don’t really care about the nation or have a connection to them.” Influential Palestinians, like the former mayor of Nablus and the wealthy Al-Massry family support the initiative.
Sheikh Abu-Mashour adds that “the talks and meetings are confidential, under the surface, but the King of Jordan stands behind them. His aid Fuaz Bashar, who is responsible for Beduin tribes’ connections to the kingdom, called me in order to renew this connection. After a few conversations, he sent a representative to me, a high-ranking military official. He arrived and said that it is clear that Jordan wants to sign direct agreements with me and other Sheiks that will arrange the sovereignty in the area and the connection with the kingdom.”
The Sheikh talks of his frequent journeys to Jordan, during which he advises many Palestinians. “It takes one hour in a taxi to get from here to there. Seventy percent of Jordan is Palestinians. They have important positions in every area, most of the major businesses are owned by Palestinians, and this makes them influential. The king knows that if the Palestinians will take their money out of Jordanian banks, Jordan will crash immediately.”
Here is a proof, from a primary source, that the Israeli Initiative is possible. While Israel is negotiating, Jordan is already working in the field, and working smartly. Jordan is speaking in two voices. Outwardly, it supports a Palestinian State, but below the surface, it is prepared to govern the area in cooperation with Israel.
All that is left is to hope that Israel will adopt the Jordanian vision. Instead of being a prisoner to the two-state solution, which has been stuck for many years, Israel should broaden its horizons. Israel needs to work on other solutions, with Jordan, to finalize the status of Arabs in Juda and Samaria. There is a partner. There is local Arab support. Now, who will take the first step?
As always, we’re happy to receive comments and reactions.