Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9/20/11: How The "Vote" Is Like A Spare Tire, And How Jordan Plays A Role

Because I have not begun in depth study of this issue of Jordan being the "new" Palestinian state, don't quote me on what I am about to say at this point in time. This post serves as more of an overview to introduce and bring up questions that I will be researching, in depth, and possibly writing a thesis on, in terms of the relationship between Palestinians and the country of Jordan, how those relations and relationships could play a role in a "new" state, and what that would mean for Israel and the Palestinian Israeli conflict.

At present Jordan houses about 2 million Palestinian refugees, and close to half of the entire Jordanian population are of Palestinian origin. Because of this overwhelming statistic many people wonder why Jordan (an already Muslim country with half a population already connected to Palestine) doesn't become the official Palestinian state (if not all of Jordan than at least the trans-Jordan region east of the Jordan River), and absorb the large number of Palestinian refugees all over the Middle East. This absorption and state status is what is known as the so-called "Jordan Option".

This issue has been in discussions for many years, however, with a Palestinian bid at the United Nations for recognized statehood on the horizon, Jordan's involvement with the Palestinian issue becomes much more pressing. Come Friday morning (September 23rd) the United Nations will be participating in a vote for recognized Palestinian Statehood, an issue that has consumed Mid East politics, certainly Israeli politics and news, for weeks now. With a "more likely than not" possibility, the United States will veto the Palestinian effort in the security council, forcing them to win a majority in the General Assembly for heightened status instead of actual statehood. While, more likely than not, they won't gain full statehood, there's no question they will gain the votes needed to up their status in the United Nations to "observer" status (like that of the Vatican City). This means they will have the ability to participate in international criminal courts, join committees, vote, and so on.

While this recognition is a wonderful boost for the morale of the Palestinians, it really changes nothing on the ground. This vote can only do so much, but without defined borders, peace negotiations, a unified government, contiguous land, etc. no solution will ever be effective in terms of the long run. I like to compare this vote to a spare tire on a car. When the original tire is destroyed (for whatever reason), you can put on a spare, but usually they are very small, you can't drive fast on them, and they only last for a very short amount of time before you have to replace them with an actual tire. The spare is very necessary and helpful (due to the fact that is, in most situations, the only convenient option at the time), and allows the car the ability to function long enough to get it where it needs to be to receive the ultimate "long term" solution of a normal tire. However, if the spare is left on too long, or used without caution, it will inevitable succumb to ruin. This U.N. vote is a spare tire. It is very possible that it is the only option to get this "Palestinian-Israeli conflict" solution up and running, however, if it used as a long term solution, instead of just a stepping stone to get to a long term or more final solution, it will fail just as horribly as if someone were using a spare tire in lieu of a real one.

So where does Jordan come in in all of this? That is the million dollar questions. Who knows if this "Jordan Option" is one of the keys to an eventual solution and resolution for Israel and Palestine? Then there is the fact that Trans-Jordan becoming Palestine might cause a huge Palestinian/Jordanian conflict, or a Jordanian/Palestinian/Israel conflict (more so than at present)...I personally think that Jordan will play a role in the peace process in some way, but, unfortunately, at this time, no one really knows exactly what that role will consist of. Only time, research, negotiations, and proposals will tell what is to become of the "Trans-Jordan" region's future, and whether it will house a new Palestinian state or remain a part of the Hashemite Kingdom's domain.

Aside from this ever looming vote consuming everyone's thoughts over here, I am also in the midst of getting ready for a huge final, and a huge month long move to East Jerusalem, where I will be working for a co-owned Palestinian-Israeli journal, where I will be able to cover this vote, and hopefully write on and research this "Jordan Option" as well.  As both time and studies progress I will be hopefully doing much more work on the Palestinian-Jordanian relationship and what role it will play in peace processes with Israel, so stay tuned to hear a great deal on the subject!

Until we meet again :-),
Jordana Simone

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