Israel Disavows MK's Proposal to Turn West Bank Over to Jordan

Jordan demands Israel clarify MK Eldad's proposal; ex-IDF chief: Israel must stop seeking imminent peace.

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday distanced itself from a contentious proposal made by a right-wing lawmaker, who suggested Israel to turn Palestinian population centers in the West Bank to Jordanian jurisdiction.

The proposal, raised last week by National Union MK Aryeh Eldad, was brought to the table on Tuesday at a Knesset conference organized by Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely on alternatives to the two-state solution.

Eldad told lawmakers during a Knesset plenum last week that Palestinians must be given Jordanian citizenship, claiming that Jordan is essentially the Palestinian state.

The idea is a nonstarter with Israel's Arab neighbor and conflicts with U.S. President Barack Obama's support for a Palestinian state.

Jordan lodged a strongly-worded protest with Israel on Tuesday over the proposal.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned the Israeli ambassador in Amman, Yaakov Rosen, and handed him a protest that "categorically rejects the ongoing discussion at the Israeli Knesset on a proposal by one of its members entitled 'two states for two peoples on the two banks of River Jordan'," a statement carried by the official Petra news agency said.

Judeh reiterated Jordan's attitude which supports the establishment of "an independent and viable Palestinian state on the Palestinian national soil in accordance with the two-state solution which should be based on relevant UN references and the Arab peace initiative", the statement said.

The setting up of a Palestinian state that lives in peace with Israel "represents a supreme strategic interest for Jordan", the minister was quoted as telling the Israeli envoy.

In response, the Foreign Ministry declared that it respected its peace agreement with Jordan and did not stand behind Eldad's proposal.

The Jordanian government has come under mounting pressure over the past days from the Islamic-led opposition, trade unions and local columnists to respond strongly to Eldad's proposal.

Ex-IDF Chief: Stop pushing for imminent peace

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who participated in the conference on Tuesday, said past peace plans urging Israel to give up captured land to the Palestinians have failed.

"The Western way of thinking has proven irrelevant and dangerous to this region," the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff said, adding that Israel should stop looking for an immediate solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

"We have to disavow the commonly held perception that we should find an imminent solution," he added. "The Disengagement from Gaza in 2005 was the Palestinians' golden opportunity to show the world that the end of the occupation would lead to political and economic stability."

"Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza and the ongoing missile fire at Israel proves that the problem was not the occupation. For them, the entire land, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, is occupied."

"[Late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat came very close to achieving independence, but he chose to launch a war against Israel in September 2000 instead," he said. "The issue wasn't the ability to give them independence, but their desire to get it."

"Instead of a state, Arafat chose to set up a terror regime," Ya'alon continued. "Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is behaving the same way and exercises political weakness as a strategy."

Around 200 people attended the conference on Tuesday, including Knesset members and representatives of the Yesha council of West Bank settlements.

Organizer MK Hotovely stressed that the forum did not represent "an assembly of Likud rebels," but that it aimed to open channels of thinking on ways of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict aside from the two-state plan.

Hotovely said the conference was intended to "strengthen the hand of the prime minister, returning from Washington after standing firm againstU.S. President Barack Obama."