Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Israel and Palestinian Authority protest Jordanian cuddling up to Hamas

According to an AP story, Israeli Embassy spokesman Itai Bardov in Amman called Jordan's contacts with  Hamas "unhelpful to the peace process.

"We're against any negotiations with Hamas because we regard it as a terrorist movement," he said. "We should find ways to strengthen the Palestinian Authority instead of legitimizing Hamas, which made an illegal military coup in Gaza."
The Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas agrees. Abbas sent  interior minister, Abdel Razak Yehiye, to Jordan last week to "find out what the Jordanians are up to and if their contacts with Hamas meant dropping support for the Palestinian Authority," according to anonymous Palestinian official in Amman. Needless to say, the United States is not happy either.
Jordan has been cuddling up to Hamas of late, a strange phenomenon noted in several places and given different interpretations. Rami Khoury, writing in the Daily Star, asserted that it is a sign Jordan believes the day of the PLO are numbered, and that the PLO is unpopular according to its polls. That is strange, because the polls seem to show Palestinians prefer the Fatah to the Hamas by about 2 to 1. Jordan's behavior is even stranger considering it has always been a client state of the United States and Britain, supporters of the PLO. But then again, Jordan has been
A different interpretation is offered by AP. They quote former Jordanian parliament speaker Abdul-Latif Arabiyat as saying  "We're at a crossroads and Jordan must protect itself and its national

According to the AP story, which does not give sources, Jordan fears that the possible failure of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks backed by the Bush administration, which leaves office early next year, could embolden Hamas in the neighboring West Bank, as well as Muslim extremists in Jordan and across the Mideast. Quiet contacts with Hamas could mollify any fallout for Jordan if that happens.

Also, according to AP, Jordan is worried a failure of talks will revive Israeli hardliner calls for ejecting West Bank Palestinians to Jordan or for parts of the West Bank to form a confederation with the kingdom as an alternative to an independent state.

Of course, the way to ensure the talks fail is to legitimize Hamas, so the whole AP-Jordanian aplogetics fall apart.

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