Both Jordan and the EU have announced that they will not support the US-backed annexation of the West Bank by Israel. However, both Jordan and the EU have taken a different approach toward the Israeli move.
King Abdullah of Jordan warned of ‘massive conflict’ with Israel over the disputed territory of the West Bank. The threat from Jordan comes as Israel looks to annex the West Bank under the US-supported Middle East Peace Plan and all but end the possibility of a two-state solution. On the line is not just the relationship between Israel and Jordan but also the peace treaty between the two countries.
King Abdullah II, in an interview published by Der Spiegel on Friday, issued a stark warning over Israel’s plans. ‘’Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean,” said the 58-year-old King. He further added that if West Bank annexation does take place in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
He reaffirmed Jordan’s stance on the issue and said while he does not want to cause chaos, Jordan is considering all necessary options. ‘’We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East,” he said.
A threat to the Jordanian Kingdom?
According to Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, the annexation by the Benyamin Netanyahu-Benny Gantz led government could pose a direct threat to the Jordanian monarchy.
He points out that if the King of Jordan has to come out in public and put the peace treaty and Israel-Jordan relation at stake, it is a very serious situation.
“For the monarchy in Jordan, an end to the two-state solution – which the Middle East plan and annexation is really aimed at achieving – an end of any prospect of a Palestinian state poses not just a strategic threat, but quite possibly even an existential threat to the monarchy in Jordan,” he said.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi emphasised the need of the international community to get involved and take steps that deter the planned annexation by Israel. The United States is backing Israel, however, Jordan is counting on support from the European Union (EU). Member states of the EU met on Friday and launched a diplomatic push to counter the annexation plan.
The Middle East Peace Plan
The Middle East Plan is a creation of the Trump Administration and marks a significant break from the two-state solution backed by the U.S. in the past. The controversial plan gives a green light to Israel to annex about a third of the occupied West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with heavily conditioned statehood in scattered territorial enclaves surrounded by Israel.
The plan was delayed due to domestic chaos in Israel since the elections gave no clear majority to any candidate. But now that Netanyahu and Gantz have reached an agreement to have equally divided terms as Prime Minister, the annexation is likely to start in July.
The EU has rejected the Peace Plan and instead stands united to counter any planned annexation by Israel. On Friday, EU representatives met in Brussels via video call and unified to launch a diplomatic push against Israel.
Josep Borrell, EU’s foreign policy chief, spoke after the meeting and said that the EU would use all its diplomatic capacity to try to deter Israel’s incoming government from going ahead with the move, which also includes the annexation of illegal settlements, approved under the plan.
Although the EU supports a two-state solution and stands united to deter Israel, they remain divided over what action to take. The UK also reiterated its support for a two-state solution last week and said it would not support a potential Israeli annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
The plan also does not go well with the Palestinians as they view illegally occupied West Bank as a vital part of a future Palestinian state. President Mahmoud Abbas famously reacted to the plan saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”
The US remains the primary backer of the annexation of the West Bank and even flew in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Gantz and Netanyahu to discuss the blueprint of the plan.
Whatever decision Israel takes over the West Bank, the repercussions will reverberate throughout the Middle East, if not the world. Hence, the US and Israel must proceed with caution or else risk igniting the tinderbox.
Penned By Armaan Srivastava