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Good Fences, Bad Neighbors

January 30th, 2004 - 12:38 am

David Ignatius reports that Jordan doesn’t want Israel to build its security fence around the West Bank, saying

to Israel’s consternation, Jordan has taken a leading role in opposing the barrier. The Jordanian foreign minister, Marwan Muasher, told his country’s parliament on Jan. 21: “Construction of the wall would kill every opportunity for a viable Palestinian state.” He said it would pose a “direct threat . . . to Jordanian national security because it might revive the transfer option [of Palestinians to Jordan] despite all Israeli assertions to the contrary.”

What’s interesting isn’t that Jordan doesn’t want the Fence. My first thought was, “Of course they don’t — it could make things better for the Jews.” On brief reflection, I realized that was unfair to Jordan, because they’ve done much to make amends with Israel and the US.

What is interesting is why the Jordanians don’t want it. They’re afraid that it might cause Palestinians to come to Jordan:

“Why are we worried?” [Muasher] went on. “The wall will effectively divide the West Bank into three parts. It will make life impossible for Palestinians: dividing them from their work, their schools, their lands. If that happens, what options do Palestinians have? They will leave, voluntarily or by force, for Jordan.”

“Duh,” was my next thought.

Jordan is a Hashemite kingdom ruling over a majority Palestinian population. Having a bunch of angry, unemployed, Arafat-”educated” neighbors crossing to their side of the river would just make an unstable situation worse. (The last time Arafat and his people were big in Jordan, they put the country through a mini civil war.)

In other words — not even other Arabs want the Palestinians around.

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