Internal Tensions in Jordan Are Growing, and a Renewal of the Peace Process Could Make Them Worse

March 15 2019

For nearly its entire history, the kingdom of Jordan has been riven by the division between its Palestinian and Bedouin populations. In recent years, hostility to the ruling dynasty has grown among the Bedouin, who were once reliably and almost uniformly loyal; a number of Bedouin religious leaders even pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Daniel Siryoti writes that the anticipated U.S. peace proposal for Israelis and Palestinians could further disrupt Jordan:

The Bedouin in Jordan see themselves, justifiably, as the pillar of their nation, whereas the Palestinians are considered guests. But while most Bedouin income comes from public service, the Palestinians are mostly concentrated in Amman and the other large cities and do well in the private sector. The Bedouin tribes and clans continue to seethe as they watch their Palestinian “guests” flourishing and accumulating wealth and status.

[This] inherent tension between the Bedouin and the Palestinians in Jordan is made more complicated by its religious aspect. While the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan is made up mainly of Palestinians, the Jordanian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (which is in effect the movement that oversees Hamas) is walking a tightrope and being careful not to put Palestinians in top roles, preferring religious figures from the Bedouin sector. [Moreover], one reason the kingdom has managed to remain stable through the events of the Arab Spring and the Islamic winter that followed is that it enjoyed sweeping, albeit secret, support from the Muslim Brotherhood. . . .

Various reports claim that Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” will probably include the establishment of a pan-Arab Islamic council, led by Saudi Arabia, to manage the local waqf—the entity that oversees the Temple Mount. For the Jordanian royal family, that means it would be booted out of its exclusive role at the holy site.

In response to this threat, Siryoti concludes, Jordan has reshuffled the waqf leadership—and the new leaders are likely responsible for the recent disturbances at the Temple Mount, which could in turn derail the peace process and help the Jordanian monarchy maintain its authority.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Bedouin, Jordan, Palestinians, Peace Process, Politics & Current Affairs, Temple Mount

Despite What the UN Says, the Violence at the Gaza Border Is Military, Not Civilian, in Nature

March 22 2019

On Monday, a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry issued its final report on last spring’s disturbances at the Gaza border. Geoffrey Corn and Peter Margulies explain why the report is fatally flawed:

The commission framed the events [in Gaza] as a series of demonstrations that were “civilian in nature.” Israel and its Supreme Court, [which has investigated some of the killings that occurred], framed the same events quite differently: as a new evolution in Israel’s ongoing armed conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas. Consistency and common sense suggest that the Israeli High Court of Justice’s framing is a more rational explanation of what occurred at the Israel-Gaza border in spring 2018.

Kites, [for instance], played a telltale role [in the violence]. When most people think of kites, they think of a child’s plaything or a hobbyist’s harmless passion. In the Gaza confrontation, kites [became] a new and effective, albeit low-tech, tactic for attacking Israel. As the report conceded, senior Gaza leaders, including from Hamas, “encouraged” the unleashing of waves of incendiary kites that during and since the spring 2018 confrontations have burned thousands of acres of arable land within Israel. The resulting destruction included fires that damaged the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which conveys goods and gasoline from Israel to Gaza. . . .

Moreover, the incendiary-kite offensive was an effective diversion from the efforts encouraged and coordinated by Hamas last spring to pierce the border with Israel and attack both IDF personnel and the civilian residents of the beleaguered Israeli towns a short distance from the border fence. . . .

The commission also failed to acknowledge that Hamas sought to use civilians as an operational cover to move members of its armed wing into position along the fence. For IDF commanders, this increased the importance of preventing a breach [in the fence]. Large crowds directly along the fence would simplify breakthrough attempts by intermingled Hamas and other belligerent operatives. The crowds themselves also could attempt to pour through any breach. Unfortunately, the commission seems to have completely omitted any credible assessment of the potential casualties on all sides that would have resulted from IDF action to seal a breach once it was achieved. . . .

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Read more at Lawfare

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war, UNHRC, United Nations