King Abdullah II of Jordan. (Shutterstock/Gevorg Ghazaryan) (Shutterstock/Gevorg Ghazaryan)
King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Many Jordanians fear Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as a step that could turn Jordan into a dreaded “Palestine state,” something Jordan’s king wants to avoid at all costs.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Is King Abdullah of Jordan worried that Israel’s planned extension of sovereignty over the strategic Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will turn his kingdom into a “Palestinian state”?

This week, the monarch lobbied members of Congress to try and get Israel to back down.

“Many Jordanians view it [annexation] as a big step in the process of trying to turn Jordan into Palestine,” Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told Haaretz.

“Some of the most reasonable and pragmatic people in Amman are truly worried about this, and the king’s efforts on Capitol Hill reflect how serious this is for them,” Satloff said.

For Jordan, Satloff concluded, “annexation is an essential national security issue. It’s more important to them than it is to every other Arab country.”

Jordan is home to over two million people who call themselves “Palestinians.” If this community launches a campaign of unrest and terror in response to Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, it would wreak havoc in Jordan.

On Wednesday, the king continued a series of video-conference meetings with committees and leading members of the U.S. Congress, Jordan’s MENAFN News Agency reported.

Abdullah spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and members of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The king “lauded the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States” and told them Jordan appreciated America’s development and defense support. Some 3,000 American soldiers are stationed in Jordan as part of the fight against Islamic State terrorists and to train Jordan’s armed forces.

But Abdullah is in a bind. Trump changed long-standing U.S. policies by moving the embassy to Jerusalem and saying the U.S. will approve if Israel annexes settlements this summer, a move Jordan vehemently opposes.

Jordan wants to maintain strong relations with America, but it maintains a cold peace with Israel, while promoting an anti-Israel narrative in Jordanian society, despite the American-backed peace treaty between the two countries.

With little hope of convincing Trump to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shelve the annexation plans, the king turned to Capitol Hill looking for support.

America does have a vested military interest in Jordan, but also has to deal with anti-American sentiment that led to several fatal attacks against U.S. servicemen there.

Although recognition of Israeli annexation will come from the White House, Congress can play an important role and the time to get involved is now, said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She said speaking directly to members of Congress is a smart move because Jordan has good bipartisan relationships.

The U.S. has invested billions of dollars in Jordan’s stability, so Congress has a “stake” in what is going on. “If the annexation move goes forward, and the consequences are like what the king is warning about, then Congress will be one of the first places where he will seek support and assistance,” Cofman Wittes told Haaretz.

Abdullah “is one of the most popular and respected international leaders on Capitol Hill,” Satloff noted. “One can even make the argument that today, the bipartisan consensus around supporting Jordan is as strong in Washington as the bipartisan consensus around supporting Israel.”

Satloff said Abdullah would love to get Republicans to oppose annexation, not necessarily in public, but at least to “express concerns about annexation to the White House through private channels.” As a critic of the embassy move and Trump’s peace deal, Abdullah’s relationship with the administration is weaker than with Congress.

“If he succeeds in getting influential senators and members of the House to call the White House and share his concerns and ask questions about the wisdom of such a move, that could perhaps make a difference,” Satloff added.

For Jordan, Satloff concluded, “annexation is an essential national security issue. It’s more important to them than it is to every other Arab country.”

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