How Does the Political Employment of the Events in the Palestinian Territories Affect Jordan?

Strategic Summary | The accelerating developments, in the Palestinian territories and Israel, impose new repercussions on Jordan, as these developments demonstrate common factors that unite their parties (the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government, and Hamas) centered on ensuring their political future, and in a way that may establish new understandings that may redefine the concepts of resistance and partnership. this may be negatively reflected on Jordan, politically and economically.

by Hazem Salem Dmour
  • Release Date – Aug 18, 2022

Accelerating Developments on Three Fronts

The West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel have witnessed accelerated events since the beginning of August 2022, a month that was charged in its political, security, and partisan atmosphere. Israel carried out a series of military operations, directed mainly against "Islamic Jihad" movement and a group of Palestinian militants, starting with the arrest of the movement's leader Bassam al-Saadi in the Jenin camp, then the assassination of "Al-Aqsa Martyrs" Brigades leader Ibrahim al-Nabulsi in the city of Nablus, the assassination of leaders of the southern and northern regions "Jerusalem Brigades", the armed branch of "Islamic Jihad" movement in the Gaza Strip.

In addition, the interior Palestinian situation in the West Bank witnessed accelerating developments, represented by issuing a decree by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, dissolving the Board of Trustees of the Istiqlal Security University in Jericho, headed by a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Tawfiq al-Tirawi, and then appointing a new Board of Trustees to the University, excluding Tirawi. Such Borad of Trustees is headed by Lieutenant General Hajj Ismail Jabr, who is the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Palestinian Security Forces, along with a membership of group of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization members, also Fatah Central Committee, and the leaders of the most important security services (National Security,  Preventive Security, General Intelligence, Police, Military Intelligence, Organization and Administration Authority) as well as the Minister of Interior, the Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, and President Abbas' legal adviser.

All of these events comes amid a state of political and partisan "alert" in the Israeli arena, weeks before the early elections for the Israeli Knesset. The Israeli arena witnesses domestic elections for Israeli parties in order to choose their candidates for the Knesset. The competition is intense between the current ruling coalition camp and the opposition camp, led by Netanyahu. Both of which are competing to win the votes of right-wing voters and settlers in the first place.

Seeking to Ensure "the Political Future"

Based on the events said above, a common factor emerges, where these ongoing events converge on. It is the quest to ensure a "political future" for the three main actors in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip: the current Israeli government headed by Yair Lapid, the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas movement headed by Ismail Haniyeh.

On the Israeli side, the escalation against Palestinians, in the West Bank and Gaza generally, also against Islamic Jihad and Palestinian militants in Jenin, Gaza, and Nablus in particular, is an arena to overcome the fragile situation that accompanied the short-term experience of the government coalition. It is likewise an opportunity to demonstrate "seriousness" in facing the security risks, besides being a maneuver to appease the right-wing public and settlers, relating all this to the chronic obsession with "terrorism" currently represented by Islamic Jihad, which is close to Iran and Hezbollah, in order to ensure the greatest chance of the return of the Bennett-Lapid-Gantz coalition to take the helm of the next Israeli government, while blocking the other right-wing camp and Netanyahu's ambitions to return to the premiership.

On the official Palestinian side, the question of "What is the political future of the Palestinian Authority?" emerges as a key determinant of domestic developments, in light of the lack of political horizon related to negotiations with Israel, the continuation of Israeli measures to promote settlements, and the confiscation of more Palestinian land in the West Bank, which almost eliminates the possibility of an irreversible "two-state solution". Though, that solution established the political and legal basis on which the Palestinian National Authority after the Oslo Accords. In addition to the that future of the Palestinian Authority is becoming a more sensitive when it comes to the question of the Palestinian authority's destiny, post the era of its president, Mahmoud Abbas.

On the informal Palestinian side, Hamas' interest, within Gaza Strip, appears to be in maintaining its political "entity" as its most important gateway to play an active and influential political role in the Palestinian system in particular, and in the region in general. It is a gateway that requires playing the role of a resolute "authority" in controlling the security situation, and controlling armed organizations and groups, especially after the exhaustion of the "armed resistance" portal's role in enhancing political influence. This is exactly what Hamas did with its position on the military strikes, directed by Israel against the movement Islamic Jihad. Hamas worked to reshape the equations of limited military "response" in light of its new controls, in line with a commitment not to "get involved" in that response.

This is what a research paper, issued by Strategiecs, entitled: A NEW PHASE IN HAMAS POLITICAL PROJECT

Establishing a New Status of Understanding

The common political factor of the recent series of events in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel, will not be so much a temporary situation, rather, it establishes a new status of tacit understandings between the three actors (the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the Israeli government). Such understandings will confirm the new definition of permissible resistance, as well as its most important pillars in the Palestinian case. The Palestinian Authority came a long way to definition, via adopting the model of peaceful limited-influence "seasonal" popular resistance. What remains is that Hamas may adopt such definition more clearly and seriously, in order to ensure its partnership in the Palestinian political system, and to approach the conditions of the region and the international community. The purpose is recognizing Hamas’s political role, which is a matter that Hamas seems to take very seriously after the recent events in Gaza.

Repercussion on Jordan

On the other hand, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan appears as the most affected side by what is taking place, and by what may happen in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. Jordan is the implicit "present" vis-à-vis the "common factors" three levels. The project of operating the Israeli Ramon airport, for Palestinian travelers from the West Bank, as of August 21, 2022, is a beginning of a series of repercussions for Jordan. The Israeli government put forward the initiative to operate the airport, as a facilitation provided to the Palestinian Authority, and the Authority accepted it implicitly, while Hamas did not object. This move will have negative political and economic repercussions reflected on Jordan, as well as the Jordanian-Palestinian relations, especially in terms of strengthening the official Palestinian dependence to the Israeli situation, at the expense of the Arab depth represented by Jordan. In addition, there are economic losses, that the Jordanian public and private sectors will suffer from, as a result of the decline in Palestinian travel through the King Hussein Bridge.

Hazem Salem Dmour

General Manager / Specialized Researcher in International Relations and Strategic Studies