INSTITUTO TECNOLOGICO Y DE ESTUDIOS SUPERIORES DE MONTERREY
Jordan & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Jordan's foreign policy has been a function mainly of its response to developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its generally moderate and carefully measured response has been based on its appraisal that effective Arab unity is a precondition for substantive peacenegotiations with Israel. The persistence of intra-Arab differences over the form and substance of pan-Arab cooperation has constrained Jordan to steer a flexible and prudent course. In addition, the scarcity of domestic resources and the consequent heavy dependence on outside powers for economic and military support have contributed to Jordan's caution in foreign policy. Moreover, the PLO's enhancedstature since the mid-1970s as a key factor in the processes of Middle East reconciliation and peace has been a further compelling reason for Jordan's generally pragmatic responses to an uncertain foreign policy.
Relations with Israel
After 1977, when Egypt's President Anwar as Sadat initiated direct negotiations with Israel that led to a separate peace agreement (and Egypt's temporary ostracism fromthe Arab world), Hussein was unwilling to follow Sadat's lead without prior pan-Arab acquiescence. Hussein apparently believed that in the absence of broad Arab support to legitimize any political talks with Israel, his own rule in the East Bank could be threatened. Consequently, he refused to participate in the Camp David process and was skeptical of President Reagan's 1982 proposal for a WestBank "entity" in association with Jordan. Israel's rejection of the Reagan Plan provided Hussein the boon of not needing to respond to an initiative that the Palestinians claimed would deny them genuine self-determination. Two years later, when Shimon Peres became prime minister of Israel, in September 1984, he offered to negotiate directly with Jordan without the participation of the PLO. Husseindecided the state of pan-Arab politics precluded his consideration of a "Jordanian option" at that time. Instead, he called for an international peace conference that would include a joint JordanPLO delegation. Hussein perceived an international forum that brought together both the United States and the Soviet Union as well as the principal Arab states and Israel as a protective umbrella underwhich he could enter into negotiations with the Israelis.
Peres, whose Labor Party was willing to consider Israeli withdrawal from at least part of the West Bank, endorsed Hussein's idea of an international peace conference in an October 1985 speech before the United Nations. Subsequently, he initiated secret meetings with Hussein to discuss procedures for convening such a conference and ways tofinesse the issue of PLO participation. Peres opposed the presence of the PLO at a possible conference, but did not object to non-PLO representatives of Palestinians attending. Hussein was not able to obtain firm Israeli commitments, however, because Peres's coalition partner, Likud Bloc leader Yitzhak Shamir, opposed the convening of an international conference and prevented the government fromachieving consensus on the issue. After Shamir became prime minister in late 1986, Peres, as foreign minister, continued his diplomatic efforts on behalf of an international conference. Peres had at least one publicized meeting with Hussein in London, but he lacked support from his own government. Hussein, who believed that Peres was interested in substantive negotiations over the West Bank whileShamir was not, took the unprecedented step during the Israeli elections of 1988 of announcing that a Labor Party victory would be better for the peace process.
Relations with Palestine
Jordan's relations with the PLO have reflected the conflicting territorial claims of the Palestinians and Jordan. Since the June 1967 War, both the PLO and Jordan have staked claims to the West Bank and East...
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