With all of the discussion about the Jordan Valley in recent weeks, one question that has largely been ignored is the preference of the party on the other side of the border. Whom does Jordan want to see in control of the Jordan Valley and its western border: Israel or the ‘Palestinians’? The answer - fromKhaled Abu Toameh - might surprise you.
In private off-the-record meetings, top Jordanian officials make it crystal clear that they prefer to see Israel sitting along their shared border.
It is no secret that the Jordanians have long been worried about the repercussions of the presence of Palestinians on their border.
In a recent closed briefing with a high-ranking Jordanian security official, he was asked about the kingdom’s position regarding the possibility that Palestinians might one day replace Israel along the border with Jordan.
"May God forbid!" the official retorted. "We have repeatedly made it clear to the Israeli side that we will not agree to the presence of a third party at our border."
The official explained that Jordan’s stance was not new. “This has been our position since 1967,” he said. “The late King Hussein made this clear to all Israeli governments and now His majesty, King Abdullah, remains committed to this position.”
Jordan’s opposition to placing the border crossings with the West Bank under Palestinian control is not only based on security concerns.
Besides the security concerns, the Jordanians are also worried about the demographic implications of Palestinian security and civilian presence over the border.
Their worst nightmare, as a veteran Jordanian diplomat once told Israeli colleagues during a private encounter, is that once the Palestinians are given control over the border, thousands of them from the future Palestinian state would pour into Jordan.
The Jordanians already have a “problem” with the fact that their kingdom’s population consists of a Palestinian majority, which some say has reached over 80%. The last thing the Jordanians want is to see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians move from the West Bank or Gaza Strip into the kingdom.
Although the Jordanians are not part of the ongoing peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, they are hoping that Israel will not rush to abandon security control over its long border with the kingdom. Understandably, the Jordanian monarchy cannot go public with its stance for fear of being accused by Arabs and Muslims of treason and collaboration with the “Zionist enemy.”
The Egyptians today know what the Jordanians have been aware of for a long time — that a shared border with Fatah or Hamas or any other Palestinian group is a recipe for instability and anarchy.
King Abdullah is motivated by his instinct for self-preservation. We should be no less motivated by the same instinct.