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A calculated Jordanian gamble (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Alexander Bligh 06/05/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2006 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The many documents that have been declassified since the Six-Day War — which began on this date 45 years ago — offer new insight into what took place on the Jordanian front. In a nutshell (and as detailed in my book, "The Political Legacy of King Hussein"), the results of the war demonstrate that Jordan´s participation was part of a calculated gamble by one of the greatest leaders this region has ever known. As far as King Hussein was concerned, the West Bank´s population had become a burden. He had hoped that ongoing contact with Israel — to the point of maintaining a covert, but genuine, peace — would guarantee the continued existence of the Hashemite Kingdom, while effectively transferring responsibility for the Palestinians to Israel, making it their problem to solve.

In December 1966, King Hussein — who had ascended to the throne in 1953 — concluded that the growing disparities between the eastern bank of the Jordan River, with its Bedouin and Transjordanian residents, and the largely Palestinian West Bank were getting increasingly worse. The latter had become the proxy of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Syria´s rulers. Under their orders, Palestinian terrorist cells from Jordan would stage attacks inside Israel, hoping they would provoke an Israeli retaliation that would topple the Hashemites, who had become their archenemy.

When Syria and Egypt signed a mutual defense treaty in late 1966, they said the move was designed facilitate a war with Israel; the pact´s unstated objective was to topple the Jordanian monarchy and replace it with a republican regime.

In light of these unfolding regional developments, King Hussein wisely predicted a large-scale war between the Arab states and Israel within six months (June 1967) and believed that Israel would capture of most of the Sinai Peninsula but would not make any territorial gains on the Syrian front. Most important, he expected Jordan´s West Bank, in its entirety, to fall into Israeli hands. Such an outcome would free King Hussein of any responsibility over the welfare of the Palestinians in these parts, and would make it easier for both Israel and Jordan to reach mutual understandings that could further develop their covert relations, in an effort to contend with shared regional enemies.

The king´s plan succeeded beyond his wildest dreams; in a slow and prudent diplomatic maneuver, he led Jordanian foreign policy through successive phases that culminated in the complete and final disengagement from the West Bank in 1988.

To Jordan´s detriment, it took only four days for Israel to capture the West Bank, resulting in long-term damage to Hashemite interests: The king and his family lost Jerusalem to Israel; King Hussein was denied the foothold he had on the Temple Mount when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan unilaterally decided to hand over control over to Islamic forces (although some were pro-Jordanian). This created a void that, unfortunately for Israel and Jordan, has since been filled by forces hostile to both nations. The writer is director of The Middle East Research Center at the Ariel University Center of Samaria.


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