The Jordan Option

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, just tweeted “Jordan=Palestine. So, the capital of Palestine is not Jerusalem but Amman.”

It can’t get any simpler than that.

The primary stumbling block to Israel annexing the land she was promised in the Palestinian Mandate and which she conquered in 1967, Gaza aside, is the fact that 1.6 million Arabs live there. All solutions put forward by the Israeli right take a stab at the problem. They range from offering the Arabs a path to citizenship to incentivizing them to emigrate voluntarily.

Amman, Palestine?

There is great opposition in Israel to the citizenship idea as it would present Israel with an Arab population amounting to 35% of the total population. To have an understanding of how big a problem that would be for Israel, just look at the problems European countries are having with a Muslim minority of only 5 to 10%. Israelis want no part of that nightmare. Paying Arabs to leave is a far more attractive solution.

The leading Israeli voice for offering compensation as an inducement to emigration, is Martin Sherman, the founder of Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He suggests offering $300,000 per family. Such a plan would cost at least $100 billion to get West Bank Arabs to emigrate. This is a mindboggling sum to most Israelis, but Sherman argues that it is affordable.

The Jordan Option represents a different solution, one which would be far less costly to Israel.  It requires changing Jordan from a monarchy to a parliamentary democracy.

After the voluntary or forced abdication by King Abdullah, the Jordan Opposition Coalition, (JOC) led by Mudar Zahran, would form the interim government. Given the fact that 75% of Jordanian citizens are Palestinian, i.e., their grandparents were/are Palestinian, this is only fitting. Besides in the last few years, King Abdullah has alienated both U.S. and Israel for different reasons. They now want him out.

New alliances are forming in the Middle East as the feud between Iran and Saudi Arabia heats up. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt are committed to fighting terrorism and the ideology which fuels it. To this end they have banned the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a terrorist organization and have placed sanctions on Qatar who continues to support them and other terrorist organizations.

Jordan hosts the world headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and its parliament is controlled by both MB and ISIS members.

The King also supports Palestinian resistance to Israel and from time to time encourages them to start an intifada.

As further evidence of the alliances being formed, it is instructive to look at the Islamic Summit held last week in Istanbul. It was organized as a response to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Eqypt did not attend. Jordan, on the other hand, did and aligned with Iran, Turkey, and Qatar who dominated the discourse.

Jordan may once have been an ally. It now must be considered an enemy.

Zahran is imminently qualified for the role. He spent much of his youth in the U.S. where he got a master’s degree. He also lived many years of his adult life in Jordan where he was employed by the U.S. and served in an intelligence capacity at the U.S. embassy in Amman.

After criticizing King Abdullah one time too many, he was forced to flee and seek asylum in Britain where he now lives. Shortly thereafter, Jordan tried him in absentia for treason and convicted him.

While in Britain, he earned a PhD and continued to build the JOC and to call for the King to abdicate.

It is the intention of the JOC to make Jordan a secular democracy on friendly terms with Israel and the U.S. They also intend to revitalize the Jordanian citizenship of all Palestinians and to welcome them to emigrate to Jordan as a matter of right.

Therefore, all Palestinians in Israel and elsewhere would benefit from this transformation. They could emigrate to Jordan and immediately be full citizens with full rights to pensions, social security and healthcare.

Even if no Palestinians in Israel or Judea and Samaria (West Bank) would emigrate, Israel would also benefit from the regime change in Jordan.

One of the reasons Israel hesitates to annex Judea and Samaria, is that if she doesn’t give the local Arabs citizenship or a path to it, she will be accused of being an apartheid regime. But the fact that the Palestinians already have Jordanian citizenship, would negate such criticism.

JOC intends to offer affordable housing to anyone who needs it including new immigrants. Saudi Arabia, U.S., and Israel would pick up the tab. Israel could then incentivize voluntary emigration to Jordan.

Currently there are 1.6 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria and 300,000 in Jerusalem. If only 50% would emigrate, Israel could accommodate the rest. Everyone wishing to emigrate would be paid market value for their homes.

There are many financial benefits from such a plan for Israel, U.S., and Europe.

Israel has spent $300 billion on internal security since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1995. She would no longer have to carry that burden. In addition, Israel would retain title to all state lands being annexed. These lands would be worth tens of billions. Israel would then embark on a massive building program throughout Judea and Samaria which would greatly reduce the cost of housing in Israel. Both the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA would be disbanded thereby saving the U.S. and the EU close to a $1 billion a year which they currently spend. All good.

That’s the Jordan Option.

As Wilders suggests there would be nothing to stop Jordan from changing its name to Palestine and making Amman its capital city.

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