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Palestine: Jordan gets jittery again

By David Singer - posted Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Jordan has become increasingly jittery after US Secretary of State John Kerry's framework agreement for peace missed meeting the second deadline for its release on 21 February - having initially been promised by the end of January.

Now US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has let slip at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors in Jerusalem on 24 February that the US hopes to present the framework agreement before the end of April.

The idea behind the framework agreement had been posited by a Senior State Department Official during a teleconference on 2 January:

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As you will have seen from the press, and indeed President Obama has spoken about the idea of establishing a framework for negotiations, that's what we're trying to achieve here – agreement on a framework that would serve as guidelines for the permanent status negotiations and that would address all of the core issues.

We are not coming in with an American plan that would be imposed on the parties, but rather we want to have a detailed consultation with them about these ideas that have been generated as a result of the negotiations between the parties themselves, and see whether they can serve as gap bridges which could lead to this agreement on the framework for permanent status negotiations.

I want to stress, as we always do but it never seems quite to convince doubters, particularly, I think, in the region, that this is not an effort to achieve an interim agreement. It is an effort to provide agreed guidelines for a permanent status agreement, that is to say a full and final peace treaty between the parties. And that purpose here is, in effect, if you like, to – for the Secretary to climb with the two leaders to the top of the hill and be able to share with them the view of what's on the other side, what peace will look like in terms of all of the core issues that have to be resolved between them. And once they have a shared vision of what that will look like, then it will become easier to finalize the details, and there will be a lot of details in the actual permanent status agreement itself.

Shapiro admitted Kerry had run into a lot of trouble climbing that hill whilst attempting to persuade Israel and the PLO to agree on the framework's terms:

It would involve both sides being willing to negotiate on the basis of a framework that contains things in it that are uncomfortable for them [and about which] they may have reservations,

"The framework," he said, "is very detailed." At this point in the process, "everyone fights over every word as they should because the stakes are very high."

King Abdullah II of Jordan is nervous at the possible outcome and could now be positioning himself to take part in these negotiations - from which he had always previously sought to distance himself.

Former Jordanian Prime Minister -Marouf al-Bahit - told Al-Hayyat, a London based Arabic-language news source - on 3 January:

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Jordan needs to be present and involved in all future negotiations,

Al- Bahit, currently the deputy head of the King's Council, an advisory board closest to King Abdullah, continued:

It is unthinkable that Jordan should sit on the side, as an observer. Jordan should join the negotiating table immediately - since it is bound to be the one paying the price of the Israeli and American positions.

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Singer

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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