Tuesday, President Trump unveiled his plan to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which, among other things, attempts to assuage Israeli worries about maintaining defensible borders. Evelyn Gordon, looking to a recent vote in the Jordanian parliament, argues that these will continue to matter because “hatred is strong and peace is fragile.”
If you want to understand the true obstacle to Mideast peace, look no further than the Jordanian parliament’s unanimous approval last week of a bill to ban natural-gas imports from Israel, just days after the gas began arriving. Energy-poor Jordan needs a stable, affordable fuel supply, which the Israeli deal provides. . . . But that doesn’t interest Jordanian lawmakers. What they care about is that this is “the gas of the enemy,” to quote protesters against the deal. They also don’t care that Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty 25 years ago.
The deal will most likely go ahead despite parliament’s objections because King Abdullah, though happy to let his lawmakers spout anti-Israel rhetoric, rarely lets them interfere with anything that he considers an important Jordanian interest. . . . But regardless of what happens to the gas deal, the vote shines a spotlight on two errors that have consistently undermined Western peacemaking efforts.
The first is underestimating the depth of Arab hatred for Israel, and therefore failing to grasp that this is the principal obstacle to peace. . . . [A]s the Jordanian vote shows, neither peace nor prosperity is a prime motivator for many people in this part of the world, whereas hatred is a very powerful motivator.
The second major Western fallacy is that peace obviates the need for defensible borders. . . . The unabated hostility to Israel among most of its neighbors, coupled with the uncertain future of any agreement signed with a dictator, means that Israel can’t afford to assume any treaty is permanent. It must be prepared to defend itself if a new Arab government scraps the treaty. Indeed, both the Jordanian and the Egyptian treaties were drafted with that in mind, and that’s also why even Israel’s main center-left party insists on retaining the Jordan Valley in any deal with the Palestinians.
Read more on Evelyn Gordon: http://evelyncgordon.com/jordanian-vote-shows-why-defensible-borders-still-matter/