Palestinians and Jordan need ‘unified front’ for Biden presidency, say experts

Palestinians and Jordan need ‘unified front’ for Biden presidency, say experts

JEDDAH (RAHNUMA): Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday met Jordan’s King Abdullah in Aqaba, with the two leaders planning to travel together for a summit with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The region is preparing for the end of US President Donald Trump’s administration and the arrival of President-elect Joe Biden and his team.

Asma Khader, former Jordanian minister and government spokesperson, said a unified position needed to be agreed on in order to face up to Israel.

“It is important to show that there is a strong Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian coalition interested in a peaceful resolution and that they are the key to the stability and tranquility of the region,” she told Arab News. “What better day to show that unity than on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Relations between the US and the Palestinians deteriorated after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cut funding to a UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, and threatened to withhold aid to the Palestinians unless they resumed negotiations with Israel.

He also unveiled a Middle East peace plan that sided with Israel on key contentious issues including borders, the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.

In September the White House hosted the UAE and Bahrain for the signing of landmark normalization accords with Israel. Trump brokered the agreements, called the Abraham Accords, and hailed the moment as the “dawn of a new Middle East.”

Nabil Shaath, who is a senior political advisor to Abbas, said that the last days of the Trump era had seen “a frenzy of effort to force Arab and Muslim countries to normalize relations with Israel, a dangerous increase of Israeli settlements and a financial blockade” on Palestine.

“Our closest neighbors – Jordan and Egypt – must be involved in protecting the peace process from further deterioration,” he told Arab News.

Asaad Abdel Rahman, a former member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, agreed on the need for a united Arab front.

“After the earthquake that we have witnessed in the past four years, we need a strategy that can work with the new US administration to move the process toward serious negotiations on the basis of what Jordan and Palestine have always publicly agreed to,” he told Arab News.

One key issue of agreement to be focused on was the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding between Jordan and the PLO regarding the Hashemite custodianship of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, he said. In the post-coronavirus period there was also a need for a joint economic plan to deal with the devastation, he added.

Ali Jirbawi, a political science professor at Bir Zeit University, said that the Palestinian leadership and Jordan must work hard on cementing the situation in light of regional and international changes.

“There is a need to support the two-state solution which requires the creation of an independent Palestinian state,” he told Arab News. “The Palestinian leadership must be supported, the so-called Jordan option (that Jordan is Palestine) needs to be regularly rejected and the Hashemite role in protecting the holy places in Jerusalem must be publicly stated.”

Former Jordanian lawmaker Hind Al-Fayez said that all sides must be encouraged to carry out internal reforms.

“This includes Palestinian national unity as well as Jordanian serious structural political reform,” she told Arab News. “One area of priority for both parties is the need to preserve the Hashemite custodianship over the holy places in Jerusalem.”

Audeh Quawas, a newly appointed member of the Jordanian senate, said that Jordan and Palestine should work hand-in-hand.

“There is a clear need for a serious strategy that focuses on the creation of the Palestinian state based on international law,” she told Arab News.

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