News You Really Need To See: “Jordan and the Palestinians: A Kingdom of Two Halves”

“Jordan and the Palestinians: A Kingdom of Two Halves”

The Economist, Mar. 8-14, 2014, p.51

“Surely, Western officials say, for the right price, currently estimated in the tens of billions of dollars, the Jordanians will help John Kerry, America’s secretary of state … to fix a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by absorbing the 4.5m Palestinians who live in the kingdom, including the 3.5m who are now Jordanian citizens.  Or will they?  Indigenous Bedouin from Jordan’s East Bank, who number about 3m, worry that America’s plans to persuade Palestinian leaders to strip generations of refugees of their claimed ‘right of return’ to what is now Israel would reduce Jordan’s original inhabitants to a permanent minority.  Tribal leaders fret that the refugees, barred from Israel, would campaign for full rights in Jordan, over time turning the kingdom into a second Palestinian state.  The Bedouin would lose their preferential access to government jobs.  They might also be deprived of the skewed electoral system that has hitherto ensured that they control Jordan’s parliament.  ‘Kerry is destroying our home,’ says a Jordanian analyst. ‘He is trying to solve one conflict by creating another.’ … Nervous lest they be accused of selling out, many of Jordan’s own Palestinians are also opposing Mr Kerry.  After four generations in Jordan, most are unprepared to go anywhere else, but do not want to admit it.  Many also fear that Jordan’s government may pocket any compensation supposedly earmarked for Palestinians to persuade them to drop their demand to get back their old homes in Israel.  Jordanian officials suggest that Jordan should receive $500m for each of the 65 years they have hosted the refugees, while the country’s Palestinians suggest that each family should be compensated for the properties that Israelis took after 1948.  The Palestinians in Jordan also argue that, far from being a burden, they have been responsible for building up Jordan’s economy.”

Quickie analysis:  Here, in a nutshell, is the problem of nations that have no states and states that contain multiple nations.  As seen with the Kurds, this is not an easy problem to fix and gets more challenging as time moves on and populations grow.  Without a comprehensive solution, “the Palestinian problem” will just get pushed onto other countries.

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