Jordan’s Strong Support for Palestinian Independence as Key to Peace

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement rejecting the role of Hamas post-war was met with skepticism by Jordanians and Palestinians, arguing that the US official can’t restrict the right of self-determination for Palestinians.

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Khaled Shnikat, director of the Jordanian Society for Political Science, believes that the postwar status of Gaza depends largely on the outcome of the fighting. “If it ends with an Israeli withdrawal, that would be much different than if it ends with a total Israeli military victory,” he told The Media Line. However, Shnikat believes that Jordan understands that, in all cases, the future status of the Gaza Strip “is a purely Palestinian issue and must be decided by Palestinians. Anything other than that will not lead to stability,” he added.

Regarding Jordan’s role in the postwar period, Shnikat believes that Jordan can do much to help. “In this war, Jordan has provided humanitarian support and diplomatic efforts to stop the war. Jordan has a wide range of experience around the world working with UN agencies in various forms of peacekeeping, humanitarian support, and governance issues,” he said.

Shnikat also recalled that in 1991 Jordan provided a political cover to allow Palestinians to negotiate with Israel under the auspices of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian team.

Etaf Roudan, director of Radio al Balad, believes the Jordanian government is likely to accept and engage with Hamas if they are part of the Palestinian government.

Demonstrators carry flags and banners during a protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Amman, Jordan November 10, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/JEHAD SHELBAK)

“If Hamas is part of the Palestinian government after the war, I think it is likely that the [Jordanian] government will cooperate with them,” Roudan told The Media Line. However, Roudan believes that Hamas might change form before it is part of a Palestinian government. “I think we will witness a change in Hamas that will make it internationally acceptable,” said Roudan, adding that given Hamas’ popularity in Jordan, it would be hard to ignore the group.

Amid the assumptions, all day-after scenarios are still blurry, according to Tagreed Odeh, a Jordanian political scientist. Odeh told the Media Line that this uncertainty is because of “the absence of a clear methodology or strategy for dealing with the issue. So far, the scene is chaotic.”

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Odeh insisted that in the eyes of Jordan and the rest of the world, the status of Hamas in postwar Gaza is a purely Palestinian issue. “The presence or abandonment of Hamas is an inherently Palestinian matter that must be decided by the Palestinian people based on international conventions related to the right to self-determination,” he said.

The keyword that kept repeating itself throughout The Media Line’s interview with Palestinians was “independent.” Other recurring themes were that the independent decision-making rights of the Palestinian people are not up for negotiations and that the obstacle is Israel.

Ahmad Deek, the political adviser to the Palestinian foreign minister, told The Media Line that while there is a stronger international consensus than ever before on the importance of Palestinian statehood, the problem is stuck because Israel refuses to address a two-state solution.

“Therefore, international steps must be taken in this direction,” said Deek. “The recognition of the state of Palestine by the US, the UK, and Western countries is important, so long as it is sealed with the Security Council’s decision to grant the state full membership in the United Nations.”

Palestinian state “a hostage to the Israeli position” – Deek

Deek argued that no matter how much pressure is imposed on the Israeli side, the Palestinian state has remained “a hostage to the Israeli position.” He warned that without these steps, fears will increase. “We are deeply concerned that the issue of recognizing the Palestinian state will be used as a diversion to provide more time for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to complete the war of annihilation. Therefore, the priority remains a cease-fire,” Deek added.

The Palestinian issue and the right of Palestinians to determine their future are now on the world’s agenda. Ramallah-based Anees Sweidan, head of the Foreign Relations Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told The Media Line that “the vast majority of world powers are supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of the 4th of June 1967.”

Sweidan asserted that international public pressure would speed up the establishment and increase pressure on Israel. “This means that all countries must recognize the state of Palestine. This is of utmost importance to increase pressure on Israel,” he argued. When asked about Hamas, the PLO official insisted that this is an internal Palestinian issue.

According to Ahmad Awad, a civil society activist in Jordan, the recent changes have made the potential of an independent state much more real. He told The Media Line that “the will of the Palestinian people is being cemented every day in the direction of their state, and at the same time, the heavy sacrifices that have been paid by the Palestinian people ensure that this will happen.”

Awad, who was a director of several UNRWA-run refugee camps in Jordan, added that the Palestinian right to self-determination is now stronger than ever while the Israeli occupiers are in a difficult position, which will weaken it. Additionally, he said, the world is now hearing from Israel’s biggest ally, the US, that there is no alternative for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. “Added to the American position, there has been a strong international outcry in support of Palestinian rights, and we are now in a better position than before the Oslo Accords were signed,” he said.

Confirming this optimism, Ubai Aboudi, the executive director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, told The Media Line, “While I still believe that eventually, we need to reach an agreement for equal rights of all citizens between the river and the sea, I now believe that an independent state is possible.”