“If we refuse to open a political horizon to the Palestinians, we must prepare for the violence to continue”

Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, based in Amman, Jordan, Marwan Muasher was the first Jordanian ambassador to Israel (1995-1996) after the signing of the peace agreement in 1994; he represented his country in the United States between 1997 and 2002, before serving as foreign minister in Jordan from 2002 to 2004.

What is the mood in Jordan, five months after the start of the war in Gaza?

The authorities are very angry and very worried. They strongly condemned Israeli military actions in Gaza. The king [Abdallah II] traveled to many capitals, including Paris, to discuss ways to end the war. Jordan surrendered [en février] before the International Court of Justice, where she spoke out against the Israeli occupation – described as“illegal and inhumane” – Palestinian territories. The prevailing feeling, among the authorities and society, is that Israel’s actions go against Jordan’s interests. The Hashemite Kingdom refuses to allow Israel to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians at its expense [en faisant de la Jordanie une « patrie alternative » pour ces derniers, idée évoquée par la droite israélienne].

However, Jordan and Israel maintain their security cooperation…

It has always been strong and covers subjects such as the fight against terrorism. But the fact that it continues today does not reflect the state of political relations between the two countries, which are at their lowest level. In 2004, when I was minister, Jordan denounced the construction of the wall to the International Court of Justice [de séparation] as contrary to international law: security cooperation did not cease then, but the political relationship was deleterious.

Can this relationship get worse?

Yes, if the Israelis launch a ground offensive in Rafah. If the Palestinians massed at the border enter Egypt, it will create a very dangerous precedent in the eyes of Jordan, and it will put more pressure on the West Bank. Amman’s position is that Palestinian lands should not be emptied of their inhabitants. Palestinians know that if they leave, they will never be able to return home [ceux qui ont été expulsés en 1948, à la création d’Israël, n’ont jamais été autorisés à rentrer par l’Etat hébreu]. The Jordanian government has warned that attempting mass transfers of Palestinians would constitute a declaration of war. Before October 7 [2023], those who worried about such a risk – I was one of them – were accused of dramatizing. Today, it has become clear to everyone that this is indeed one of Israel’s objectives.

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