Editorial

Jordan King’s Warning About Annexation

Haaretz Editorial
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Jordan's King Abdullah II attends the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019
Jordan's King Abdullah II attends the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019Credit: Zoubeir Souissi/ Reuters
Haaretz Editorial

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned in an interview on Friday that if Israel moves ahead with its intention to annex parts of the West Bank, it would lead to a major clash with the kingdom and put the peace treaty itself at risk. This comes in the wake of the king’s comments back in November that ties between Israel and Jordan were at an “all-time low,” and his refusal to renew Israel’s lease of Jordanian enclaves at Tzofar in the Arava Valley and Naharayim in the northern Jordan Valley.

The king’s statements to the German daily Der Spiegel are an important reminder to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to his coterie of supporters of annexation. These people are misleading the Israeli public into believing that American willingness to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the settlements is a historic insurance policy that allows Israel to make a unilateral grab, at no cost and no risk.

This is a dangerous state of being drunk with power. The European Union on Friday moved ahead on anti-annexation sanctions if Israel takes unilateral steps that go against international law. In fact, Israel’s arrogance isn’t backed up even by the United States, which conveys conflicting messages. Only last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that annexation is “an Israeli decision.” This is vague wording that can be interpreted as spurring Israel on to decide to move ahead with annexation, or as a hint intended to cool initial enthusiasm over it. In a briefing for Israeli journalists in the context of Abdullah’s remarks, the State Department spokeswoman said that the Trump administration wants to hold direct negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians and others in the region over the president’s peace plan and that discussion of annexation should be part of the negotiations.

This is exactly what happened after the presentation of President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century.” Netanyahu was quick to boast about “sovereignty over every settlement on Sunday,” but then the United States said that annexation before the Israeli election would “endanger American recognition.”

Even without listening to Abdullah it’s obvious that annexation will endanger peace. The problem is that the annexationist right wing is not deterred by this possibility. On the contrary, it believes that toppling the Jordanian monarchy might fulfill the vision of Jordan as the Palestinian state.

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz clearly stated during the election campaign that he opposes unilateral moves. While the coalition agreement he signed with Netanyahu allows the latter to move forward unilaterally on annexation as early as July, the agreement also contains a clause that requires Netanyahu to approve the Trump plan while seeking “to maintain regional stability, to maintain the peace accords.” Abdullah’s remarks show clearly that this is not the case. Gantz will have to insist that annexation hurts peace with Jordan and to thwart this needless and dangerous initiative.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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