Jordan retakes its territory

Is the cancellation of the lease arrangement with Israel a sign of things to come?

King Abdallah II of Jordan gave a speech to parliament on Sunday in which he announced the restoration of full Jordanian sovereignty over the territories of Baqoura in the north and Ghumar in the south which had been leased to Israel for 25 years as part of the Wadi Arba Treaty. State television meanwhile broadcast live images of Jordanian soldiers raising the national flag over Baqoura.

This is a major national achievement for Jordan in every sense off the word. It goes beyond merely cancelling the lease arrangement for the enclaves. It reflects a transformation that is underway in official Jordanian policy towards Israel, from one based largely on accommodation and appeasement to a firmer and more assertive approach in dealing with Israel’s high-handed behaviour, which has gone beyond all limits. We can only hope this is sustained and extended to other issues.

Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to annex the two enclaves and extend Israeli sovereignty to them, as he did to Occupied Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights. He used underhand pressure and extortion to browbeat the Jordanian authorities into extending the lease for another 25 years. But while such arm-twisting may have worked in the past, this time it failed, and the Jordanian state insisted on regaining every inch of its territory.

By resisting all this pressure, the Jordanian monarch acted in accordance with the strongly-held and clearly-expressed will of the people. Jordanians of all stripes and persuasions have been increasingly adamant and vocal in demanding not only the recovery of sovereignty over these enclaves, but also the cancellation of the disgraceful gas deal with Israel, the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman, and the revocation of the Wadi Arba agreement which is seen as an affront to all Jordanians regardless of their ethnic origins or political or sectional affiliations.

The recovery of these territories is an important step, which vindicates the new approach of standing up to Israel and its occupation of Arab territories and dealing with it from a position of parity. This was also demonstrated in the recent recall of the Jordanian ambassador from Tel Aviv to demand the release of Jordanian citizens detained by Israeli occupation forces, who were subsequently freed.

It is to be hoped that the approach adopted towards Baqoura and Ghumar will go on to be applied to all occupied Arab lands The age of Israeli omnipotence and supremacy is on the retreat as an axis of resistance emerges in the region, the Arab-Israeli normalisation train suffers a sudden breakdown, and the wave of Arab youth intifadas — which began in Tunisia and Egypt and later swept into Algeria and Sudan – reaches Iraq and Lebanon right on Jordan’s doorstep.

Jordan is to be commended for its resilience in adhering to its rights and not capitulating to Israeli and American pressure. Let us hope it can stay the course, and that the next celebration will be when the disgraceful gas deal is scrapped, and all those who brokered, promoted and saddled Jordan with it are held to account.

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