26 Shvat 5759 February 12, 1999 Issue number 204
King Hussein of Jordan was buried in Amman Monday afternoon. A large Israeli delegation was present, including President Weizman, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mks Shamir, Peres, Barak, and Mordechai, Chief Rabbi Lau, Foreign Minister Sharon, and others. Israeli flags over public buildings in Israel were lowered to half-mast during the funeral. The public mood in Israel, as expressed in the public media and by the government, was somber. Ma'ariv's editorial states, "The lowering of the Israeli flag to half-mast during the funeral of an Arab leader is a symbolic statement reflecting genuine admiration. The people of Israel bows its collective head in memory of King Hussein. There are few statesmen - Israeli or foreign - whose death will arouse such feelings of grief in the public's heart." Hatzofeh, however, took a different tone: "It appears that we have lost our sense of proportion... We have described his nobility, his willingness to stand by us, his love of peace, but we have overlooked the true picture - beginning with his many wives, and up to the fact that he stood at the head of a cruel dictatorship that put down all opposition with an iron hand. No one seems to remember that he headed a hedonistic royal house enjoying unlimited riches while at the same time many of his subjects are literally starving, and at their expense... He joined together with Syria and Egypt in their goal to 'throw us into the sea' on the eve of the Six-Day War. His actions against us during the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War have been forgotten, as has been his alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War." The paper also mentions the "warm home" provided for Hamas in Jordan, and the fact that Hussein made peace with Israel well after the agreements with Egypt and even with the PLO. (Arutz 7 Feb 8)
King Abdullah of Jordan Is Sworn in
The official announcement came at noon Sunday: King Hussein of Jordan had died, and his son Abdullah became the new King shortly afterwards. President Ezer Weizman released a statement today in which he said, "King Hussein was one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, a brave soldier who fought for peace, a clever man, warm-hearted, and the symbol of good neighborly relations... who was not afraid to take the long and difficult path to peace." Prime Minister Netanyahu eulogized Hussein warmly Sunday, noting, "No one in Israel will forget your moving visit of the bereaved families in Beit Shemesh [whose daughters were killed by a Jordanian soldier while on a school trip], to whom you came to apologize for the heinous crime perpetrated by one of your countrymen... The peace between us will be a testament to your memory and a symbol of the vision of peace between all the sons of our Patriarch Abraham.
King Abdullah II has promised to continue the policies of his father. In an interview with a Jerusalem paper before the death of his father, he said that he would refrain from interfering in internal Israeli politics, and would therefore not meet with any Israeli politicians in the near future. Arutz-7 spoke today with Middle East expert Prof. Dan Shivtan on what may be expected in our neighboring kingdom to the east. "In the short run, things will be peaceful, but we have to see how long those close to [deposed Crown Prince] Hassan will stay quiet. Stability will probably be retained, but the question is how smooth the coming weeks and months will be." Shivtan said that new King Abdullah has several problems facing him: "Iraq is currently winning, in a sense, against the United States, and this is a signal to radicals all over the region that their methods can be successful. Syria and the Palestinian Authority will probably try to test Abdullah. In addition, the status of the PA will be determined in the coming time period, and this has critical ramifications for Jordan from any way you look at it."(Arutz 7 Feb 7)
Anger at Weizman over Hawatme Greeting
President Ezer Weizman exchanged a few words and shook hands with Na'if Hawatme, head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization, while the two were waiting for the funeral procession of Jordan's King Hussein. Hawatme approached Weizman and told him, "You are the man of peace, we have been watching for you for a few years, and we hope that you can bring peace to our region." Weizman said that he hoped peace could be attained with Syria, where Hawatme lives. Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon walked over afterwards to Weizman, and reminded him that Hawatme has much "blood on his hands." The DFLP, which appears on the U.S. list of terrorist groups, is a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization that believes that Palestinian goals can only be achieved by a popular revolution of the working class. The DFLP was responsible for the May 1974 massacre of Israeli school-children in Ma'alot, resulting in 27 dead and 134 wounded. (Arutz 7 Feb 8)
Several nationalist camp MKs are demanding that a special Knesset session be convened to discuss the incident, while the Terror Victims Association says that the exchange of pleasantries with the avowed terrorist constitutes a legitimization of terror as a means of attaining political goals. Hawatme said on Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) today that Weizman told him during yesterday's conversation, "I would like peace, too, but the Israeli right is the source of the problem." This is contrary to the report of Presidential-aide Aryeh Shumer, who said that Weizman only expressed the wish that there be peace on the Syrian-Lebanese front. Centrist party leader Yitzchak Mordechai is also said to have both talked to Hawatme and to have shaken his hand. Mordechai said today, "I will not relate to all sorts of rumors. Yesterday [the day of King Hussein's funeral] was a sad day..." Last night, Labor MK Ephraim Sneh and Meretz MK Ran Cohen came out in support of the controversial handshake, arguing that Hawatme's openness may indicate that he has, once and for all, abandoned his terrorist tendencies. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he would not shake the hand of someone like Hawatme, "who is still committed to the murder of Jews and has not accepted even one peace agreement with Israel." (Arutz 7 Feb 9)
New Absorption Center to Open in Bet El
The Bet El Local Council has announced the opening of a new Absorption Center for English- and French-speaking new immigrants. Targeted to open in June 1999, in time to welcome next year's immigrants, it will house fifty families and singles from English-speaking countries and France. "Bet El itself is comprised of many olim (immigrants) from these countries," explains Bet El Councilman Tuvia Victor. "We feel that we have just the right blend here to help make the first steps of the 'difficult but rewarding' road of Aliyah that much easier." The new center, supported by the Settlement Wing of the Jewish Agency, will house the new immigrants for their first year or longer in Israel. "The educational institutions here alone would make a fair-sized village," says Shlomo Duchan, a long-time immigrant from France who will be helping Victor coordinate the plans. "A yeshiva g'vohah, two boys' yeshiva high schools, an ulpanah (girls' high school), a junior high school, two elementary schools, and a Talmud Torah - a sampling of what is important to the people who live here." Bet El, situated less than a half-hour's drive north of Jerusalem, offers a wide spectrum of services, including stores and shops, a bakery, two restaurants, two mikvaot, small factories, a swimming pool, a tennis court, and more. "There is every reason to believe," Victor predicts, "that our efforts in welcoming the new olim will succeed in other ways as well. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them find that their needs - social, religious, economic, educational, recreational, and more - are met right here in Bet El, and they then buy a home here and become an integral part of our growing community." For more information, send e-mail to email@example.com (Arutz 7 Feb 5)
Canada Supports PA UN Move That is Contrary to Oslo
The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution Wednesday to convene a Geneva Convention session on July 15 to discuss the situation in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has announced that the Palestinian efforts that led to the resolution were a gross violation of the Oslo accords. The Ministry explained that the Palestinians cancelled their participation in a meeting that had been set for last November, in which ways to improve humanitarian conditions for residents of these areas were to be discussed. "The entire purpose of [the meeting for which the Palestinians are now calling] is to seek condemnations and slanderous statements against Israel," according to the Foreign Ministry. "The Palestinian initiative would create a dangerous precedent of politicization of the humanitarian aid provided by the United Nations that will only succeed in hurting the recipients of that aid." The vote on the resolution was 115-2 with 5 countries abstaining. Canada voted in favour. Only Israel and the U.S. voted against. (Arutz 7 Feb 5 / U.N. News Feb 10)
New Terrorist Methods Injure Jew in Katif
Arab terrorists have come up with a new technique. In an incident Tuesday night, they lightly injured the administrative head of the Gush Katif community of Netzarim, Gershon Yonah, by detonating an explosive on top of his car as it drove by. The terrorists stood atop the Tzanchanim Bridge on the Cross-Gaza Highway, and dangled the explosive by a rope, releasing it when the car approached below. Yonah was treated in the hospital for leg wounds and was later released. Also in Gush Katif: The IDF is not keeping its part of the bargain regarding the opening of the coastal road there to Palestinian traffic. Local residents said that it had been agreed that only 20 Palestinian cars would pass there every day, but in practice, the IDF allows four times that amount to traverse the road. The army also does not check all the cars, contrary to what was agreed upon. O.C. Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yom Tov Samiyeh, who visited the region today, refused to relate to the claims. (Arutz 7 Feb 10)
Palestinian Authority senior Nabil Sha'ath made it clear Wednesday: The PA is likely not to declare a Palestinian state until several weeks after the elections in Israel, so as "not to influence " the outcome of the elections. It is apparently felt in the PA, as in Israel, that a Palestinian declaration of a state would benefit Binyamin Netanyahu. (Arutz 7 Feb 10)
Illegal Construction on the Map
Some 5000 illegal Arab structures have been built in the past three years in Israeli-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria, and less than 10% of them have been razed. The buildings are situated in areas that are either slated for future roads, harmful to water resources or natural areas, or are injurious to security interests. Almost every one of the destroyed buildings was unoccupied. Shlomo Dror, coordinator of IDF activities in Yesha, told Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman that since 1996, many construction and zoning plans have taken the illegal Arab structures into consideration. (Arutz 7 Feb 10)
Likud Election Results Surprise Some
The internal Likud elections to determine the party representatives in the next Knesset have produced some surprising results. Science Minister Silvan Shalom earned the top spot on the roster after Prime Minister Netanyahu, followed by Moshe Katzav, Limor Livnat, Meir Shetreet, Gideon Ezra, Naomi Blumental, Ariel Sharon, Uzi Landau, and Ruby Rivlin. Defense Minister Moshe Arens received only the 26th spot. Eli Cohen, the new representative of Judea and Samaria (Yesha) in the Likud, is #22. New faces in the starting line-up also include former Cabinet Secretary Danny Naveh(12), Tzippy Livny (17), and Dr. Yuval Shteinitz (19). (Arutz 7 Feb 9)
"Project Unity" Continues
The first step in uniting Israel's political right was taken Monday: The Tzomet and Tekuma parties reached an agreement to run on a joint ticket for the elections. At the same time, pressures continue to be exerted on both Moledet and the new Herut party to join as well. Harsh words were exchanged on last night's "Politika" television program between Herut member Michael Kleiner and Moledet's Rechavam Ze'evi. Former Yesha Council head Yisrael Harel, who also appeared on the show, had this to say afterwards: "I am greatly saddened, and I am beginning to have my doubts regarding the intentions of some of the elements of the new party that is supposed to arise upon the ideological ruins of the Likud. If the two central figures sitting here can argue in this way at this stage prior to the elections, I am concerned that their worries are [personal and] not ideological..." (Arutz 7 Feb 9)
P.A. Arrests Jadallah - Again
The Palestinian Authority claims to have arrested, once again, terrorist Jamil Jadallah. He is suspected of murdering Itamar Doron of Moshav Ora and Danny Vargas of Kiryat Arba, and was also apparently involved in the attack on the van carrying pre-school teachers in Hevron two months ago. Jadallah disappeared from his prison cell in Shechem almost two months ago. (Arutz 7 Feb 9)
Golan Leader: Nimrod Plans Not Secretive
Ha'aretz newspaper reports Tuesday on a former army outpost in the Golan Heights - Nimrod - that has been "secretly transformed into a new settlement." The location of the new community amidst several pro-Syrian Druse villages is designed, according to Golan settlement sources quoted in the article, "to convey to the Syrians that Israel has no intention of moving from the area." Avi Ze'ira, Chairman of the Golan Settlement Committee, rebuffed the charge that Nimrod's establishment involved secret dealings. "Nimrod began as army outpost almost 15 years ago," he told Arutz-7 today. "When the army left a short time ago, it handed over jurisdiction to the Defense Ministry, which then turned over the reins to the settlement arm of the Jewish Agency. Though we didn't go out of our way to publicize the move, everything was done above board, in coordination with the relevant government departments. Let's not forget that the Golan is an inseparable part of the State of Israel, too," Zeira observed. One family lives there at present, and 3-7 more are expected within the next two months. (Arutz 7 Feb 9)
Yesha Growth Reported
There has been an upsurge in construction in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) over the past few weeks. Several new outposts have been built, all within the framework of "legal" construction, as they are within the planned areas of existing communities. Former Defense Ministry senior Eli Cohen said, "The Ministry is most definitely planning to strengthen the Yesha communities before the national elections." Defense Minister Moshe Arens, whose office distanced itself from Cohen's remarks, has said, "In principle, the continuation of Jewish settlement [in Yesha] and its ability to exist [have been] an important goal of all the governments of Israel." (Arutz 7 Feb 8)
Transfer Divides Begin and Ze'evi
No hint of a reconciliation between Benny Begin and Rehavam Ze'evi has been forthcoming. The dispute revolves around the "transfer" issue: Ze'evi refuses to erase it from his party platform, and Begin refuses to run together with him for just that reason. Begin has similarly rejected a proposal for each party on the nationalist list - Ze'evi's Moledet, Rafael Eitan's Tzomet, Tekumah, and Begin's Herut - to have its own platform, separate and apart from a joint platform for all that would include only unanimously-agreed clauses. Ze'evi told Arutz-7, "Benny Begin never expressed reservations about his father's transfer of Jews from the Sinai in 1982. Why the double standard?" Coincidentally or not, it has been recently learned that in March 1955, David Ben Gurion suggested to his colleagues in the Israeli Cabinet that Israel capture the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and transfer some 100,000 Arab refugees there to Jordan. Ben Gurion, whose idea was not accepted, explained then that Egypt had no legal claim to the Gaza Strip and was not adhering to the cease-fire terms there. (Arutz 7 Feb 8)
Comfortable Conditions for Hamas Prisoners in P.A.
Hamas terrorists "imprisoned" in Palestinian Authority jails are actually allowed to leave their cells each day - as long as they return at night. Middle East News Line reports that the PA has allowed this arrangement for dozens of Hamas members. (Arutz 7 Feb 8)
Yasser Rajoub Captured
The IDF has captured Yasser Rajoub, the brother of Palestinian security chief Jibril Rajoub. So claimed the Rajoub family Sunday. Yasser Rajoub is one of the Hamas terrorist organization's central activists in the Hevron area and acts as the head of the Hamas "charity committee." This is not the first time he is being imprisoned in Israel. Israeli security sources have refused to confirm or deny the story. The IDF has announced that the city of Shechem is closed to Israelis today. This, due to the increased tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. At this time, seven Hamas members imprisoned by the PA are being treated in the Shechem hospital after conducting a hunger strike in protest of their detainment. (Arutz 7 Feb 7)
Israel Has a Budget
The Knesset of Israel passed the national budget bill last Friday morning. The new budget totals 215 billion shekels (approx. $53 billion). The additions to the budget attained over the past few days by the coalition parties totalled a half-billion shekels, but Finance Ministry sources said that the budget framework was not exceeded. Coalition chairman MK Meir Shetreet (Likud), speaking in the Knesset last night, said that a proposed bill to license Arutz-7 would be debated in the Knesset in two weeks' time. (Arutz 7 Feb 5)
MK Tzvi Hendel (NRP), the chief "negotiator" on behalf of religious-Zionist and Yesha interests during the recent budget deliberations, discussed with Arutz-7 the budget in general and his achievements in particular. "I was delighted to hear of the comments of Yediot Acharonot's economic commentator Sever Plotzker," said Hendel, "who wrote today that, contrary to what has been publicized to date, 'the national coffers were not robbed.' It is refreshing to hear Israeli commentators writing positive things about the Prime Minister." Hendel said that he feels that many important national institutions were recognized during the last few days of the budget talks, "whether they be Religious-Zionist bodies such as Hesder yeshivot (a five-year program of yeshiva studies including approximately 20 months of army service), IDF yeshiva 'mechinah' programs (one year of yeshiva study followed by three years of army service), Aliyat Hano'ar youth villages, or other worthy causes such as funding for farmers, or infrastructures in moshavim - most of which, by the way, are bastions of the Israeli left. That's why I've been taken aback by the harsh criticism of the left regarding this budget. Incidentally, [former Labor-party Finance Minister Avraham] Shochat consistently walks out of the Knesset plenum whenever I raise the issue of the four billion shekels added to the Labor government budget prior to the '96 elections. The total sum of the additions this week were about one-eighth of that." Regarding Arutz-7, Hendel said he was "pained and angered by the approach of the State Attorney's office, which has not been able all this time to find a framework to license Arutz-7 'kosher.' Not that Arutz-7 isn't kosher - it's 100% kosher. That's why it spends millions each year in order to broadcast from a ship out at sea." Hendel added that the licensing of Arutz-7 will come either via the Bezek Services Law, or in the form of a separate bill to be tied to a bill ensuring providing funding for the kibbutzim. (Arutz 7 Feb 7)
Dozens of Tu B'Shvat trees planted by students near the old Asheknazai cemetery in Hevron were uprooted and destroyed by Arabs. The cemetery has been the site of continued desecrations for the past several years. Continued demands by Hevron's Jewish Community to have Israeli security forces stationed at the cemetery have been turned down. Hevron's Jewish population received another "slap in the face" last Thursday when a section of King David (Shuhada) Street was opened to Arab pedestrian and vehicular traffic yesterday. The roadblocks, which had been placed there after the August murder of Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan, have been removed, and the IDF now carries out only spot-checks on individual Arabs walking down the street. A sharp letter warning of the dangers of re-opening the road - adjoining several Jewish buildings - has been sent to Defense Minister Moshe Arens. (Arutz 7 Feb 5)
Every Inch a King Jerusalem Post Editorial
International sorrow at the death of King Hussein of Jordan tells us that we have bid farewell to a man of diminutive stature who yet became a giant of our times. Hussein was an Arab leader who was loved without precedent, admired beyond his achievements, and forgiven without rancour for his political errors. We join the whole world in offering his family and his people our deepest condolences in their days of loss and sadness.
For most of his reign Hussein was an absolute monarch, but he was never a despot. He was alone among Arab leaders in courting public opinion, and unique among them in the depth of his love for his countrymen. No one doubted this man of royalty and privilege when he said he lived for the love of his people and that he had "lived the life and suffered the suffering" just as they had. The terrible public grief we have seen on the streets of Amman is eloquent proof that they believed him, and they returned his love in full measure.
He was a man of the people but he was, to quote King Lear: "Aye, every inch a king." To Israelis and other admirers he was the "plucky little king," yet he could be infuriating when he felt he was right, and ruthless when he felt it was needed - but never for long. Even his enemies have acknowledged his capacity to forgive and forget once their challenge to his country or its institutions had passed.
In no one else has the princely tradition of Arab desert aristocrat and easygoing man of the people come together so easily. The incredible image of this Arab king sitting on the floor in Beit Shemesh, in contrition and mourning for Jewish children killed by a deranged Jordanian soldier, is one that will never be forgotten in Israel. In this gesture alone, real human peace between the people of Israel and a true Arab leader was at last made manifest.
No one who ever met Hussein has failed to mention his warmth and his astonishing ability to assume comfortably whatever level his guest occupied in the rank of God's creatures. He was a king, a politician, a wily desert warrior, a delightful and humorous companion. He was no saint - he loved women and fast cars and planes and the good life - but he was no playboy either.
Without this particular king, Jordan would have never amounted to anything more than an artificial colonial creation, a poverty-stricken sandy backwater of no consequence, waiting to be eaten by the powerful predators of the Middle East. His cousin lost his life and the vast, rich Hashemite kingdom of Iraq to the coarse thugs who still run it. In Jordan, Hussein steered a relentless course to establish the state and preserve its Hashemite nature - the policies may have zig-zagged as he saw necessary, but the vision never did. The young Hussein survived the assassination that killed his grandfather at his side, the first in a score of attempts on his life. He survived war and, more remarkably in this region, he survived peace. He survived his own mistakes and miscalculations and, unlike many democratic politicians today, he never failed to admit to them and try to correct them.
He smashed the PLO in Black September 1970, when he thought it necessary to preserve his kingdom. He defied the West and the moderate Arab world at great economic cost in 1991, when he thought it necessary to bow to domestic support for Saddam Hussein. His support for an ungrateful Saddam fell into the same category as his joining in the 1967 war against Israel - a serious mistake made for good, but misguided, feelings of Arab solidarity. For both blunders he paid dearly, losing the West Bank and east Jerusalem in one and Saudi and Gulf economic aid in the other.
But Hussein was not a man to sulk or grow bitter when he was not understood. Had he been, he would not have become the man we now join Jordanians in mourning - a man of peace and vision, a friend of Israel, a world figure. He made mistakes, but he was not a troublemaker - he was a relentless troubleshooter and generous mediator. He was an advocate of peace in a region always spoiling for war. At Wye River, he got off his deathbed to do so, unassumingly adding to his stature and his legend.
Right or wrong, the king was his own man. He defied conventional wisdom unless it mirrored his own analysis. He borrowed no rules or standards, but set his own - and kept them. He could crush the PLO when the Palestinians were wrong, yet relentlessly fight for their rights even while they hated him.
The king has been criticized for the state of the economy he has left behind, but we should first look at where his country has come from - wretchedly poor, mostly esert with no oil or resources, hemmed in, pushed around, and plotted against by powerful neighbors.
This was a second-rate environment that threw up a first-rate leader. Jordan is not a Western-style democracy, but it is the most just of Arab societies and it has the most sound institutions. It has a parliament and a modicum of loyal opposition. Despite rumors of family and palace intrigues in Amman, the transition to the reign of King Abdullah II has been smooth, dignified, and constitutionally correct to the last letter of the law.
Without forcing deeply embedded Arab and Islamic traditions into a rapidly changing modern world, Hussein nudged his country in the right direction. In his last major interview he said without hesitation that what he hoped for Jordanians was democracy, pluralism, and human rights.
King Hussein's powers have passed to his son, but his remarkable authority will have to be earned. "Give them dignity," he advised Abdullah when he handed the people into his care. He himself gave dignity to everyone he dealt with. His wise counsel will be sorely missed. (Jerusalem Post Feb 8)
There is an old saying that it is easier to take a Jew out of the Diaspora [Galut] than to take the Diaspora out of the Jew. The truth of this adage becomes abundantly clear when one witnesses the reactions of the Israeli media ever since the news broke this past Friday that King Hussein was dying. Voice of Israel radio decided to play sad, subdued, mourning music. Channel 2's Oshrat Kotler looked as if she'd lost a close relative. "Independence" is not only a political status - it is also a state of mind. The Jews of Israel still have a long way to go to attain inner "independence", inner balance and self-assurance. Lost 1929 years ago, these qualities cannot be retrieved in merely 50 years.
We all support the peace treaty with Jordan. There is also no doubt that, among Arab rulers, Hussein most closely fit the definition of a "good neighbor." And yet, we should never forget the facts: It was Hussein that desecrated the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, even using some of the tombstones for Arab Legion latrines. With his consent, the so-called "West Bank" served as a basis for terror attacks until 1967. One need only recall the massacre on the bus in Ma'aleh Akrabim in the Negev which claimed 11 victims; the 34 victims of Jordanian terrorist attacks in 1954; and the frequent shootings from the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1967, Hussein joined the Egyptian attack on Israel. After the retreat of the Jordanian army, Israeli soldiers found written orders from the King instructing his men to kill everybody - men, women and children - in Motza and Sha'alvim, two Jewish communities situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
After '67, Jordan once again began to serve as the basis for terrorist infiltration, resulting in heavy Israeli casualties in Karame. During what became known as Black September 1970, the benevolent, smiling, well-educated King killed approximately 20,000 Palestinians. (Subsequently, Israel gave asylum to over 100 terrorists who sought refuge from the massacre.) Had a Jewish ruler done anything even remotely similar, the Israeli left would never have forgiven him. During the Gulf War of 1991, King Hussein conspired with Saddam Hussein to partition Saudi Arabia, and to crown Hussein as King of Hajaz. To this end, Hussein even began to grow a "fundamentalist beard" which he later - quietly and quickly - shaved off. All those years, behind the scenes, Hussein maintained good and sometimes intimate relations with all Israeli governments from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. His explanation for this "two-faced" game: his precarious position in the Arab world. Hussein's Hashemite regime lacked legitimacy, given the fact that Jordan was the creation of British imperialism. Indeed, the King's grandfather, Abdullah, the founder of the Hashemite dynasty, was placed on his throne by Britain.
Israel and Jordan cooperated closely - economically, politically and militarily - long before the signing of the formal Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. This relationship was not rooted in "love." There is no such thing between nations. It was a partnership based on mutual interests, clearly demonstrated in September 1970, when Israel moved its army to the Syrian border, forcing an armored Syrian column (which had already succeeded in penetrating Jordan) to withdraw.
It was Oslo that forced Jordan to sign a formal peace agreement with Israel, because, despite Jordan's pro-Palestinian rhetoric, the emerging "State of Palestine" is Jordan's real nightmare. Jordan knows for sure that after taking Jerusalem, Arafat's next move will be to get control of Amman. (Tel Aviv will come only later!) King Hussein was always painfully aware that 60 to 70% of his population was Palestinian; he was thus careful to keep his Palestinians away from real political power, especially in respect to Jordan's armed forces. "Greater Palestine" - extending from Gaza's Mediterranean shores up to the Iraqi border to Teheran, would constitute a contiguous sovereign, hostile Islamic land mass. This is the common nightmare of both Israel and Jordan.
Since the pernicious Oslo Accords, "Jordan is Palestine" is no longer a slogan of Israel's political right. On the contrary: Oslo made it a feasible goal for the Palestinians. Hence the caution and the fear in Israeli political circles for the future and stability of Jordan.
Israel has two insurance policies in the face of this danger. First: Jordan's Hashemite regime. Second: territory - the terrain of Judea and Samaria. The Judean desert and its mountains are virtually unconquerable by an army attacking from the east. In Samaria, the few passes leading from the east into the country are controlled by a mountain range towering 800 meters above the Jordan Valley. In a joint announcement, 100 American generals and admirals described the region as "the only military margin" Israel possesses to safeguard its very existence. Only from there, say the experts, can an invading army be destroyed. Once up the mountain plateau, a hostile foreign army faces obstacles on the way to Tel Aviv.
From the Jordanian viewpoint, a Palestinian state sharing a common border with Jordan would be tempted to infiltrate and destabilize Jordan with the intention of annexing it to "Palestine." Thus, both Israel and Jordan have a common interest in keeping Israel on the mountain plateau of Samaria, in the Jordan Valley, and on the Jordan River. Is it exaggerated to state that the second insurance policy--the territory, is the better one? After all, what country would make its very existence dependent on the well being of another state?
Hussein's death is a classic illustration of how fragile and dangerous is the total reliance on the stability of Jordan (a stability that we hope will prevail under King Abdullah II). But Providence has given Israel another leg to stand on: 200,000 Jewish settlers, sitting on this very mountain plateau. If the Yesha settlers were not there, they should have been invented. Providence also wanted it so that the spearhead and backbone of this Jewish population came there in search of tradition, religion and history, in the footsteps of the Patriarchs. A spiritual magnet turned out to serve as a material security belt for the Jewish coastal state. The Israeli establishment's jitters in the wake of Hussein's death should serve as the handwriting on the wall - warning right and left not to touch Israel's only true insurance policy: the territory and the settlements of Judea and Samaria. (Arutz 7 Feb 7)
The writer, a former Techiya MK and an attorney living in Kiryat Arba, has a weekly spot on Arutz 7, and writes a column for Yediot Acharonot.
Despite the Palestinians' failure to implement their part of the Wye Agreement, the US continues to put all the blame on Israel.
It seems as if the Clinton administration never misses an opportunity to blame Israel. Despite the mountain of evidence of Palestinian violations of the Wye accord, State Department officials and even Vice President Al Gore are publicly pointing a finger at Israel, accusing it of failing to implement the agreement.
The accusations began on Jan. 6, when State Department spokesman James Rubin claimed that Palestinian leaders "have, in fact, worked hard to implement many of their commitments there are some commitments that still have to be fulfilled, but in our view, overall, they are making progress here." Rubin, then emphasized: "It is the Israelis who have not fulfilled any of their Phase Two obligations by failing to pull back the further redeployment as required by Phase Two."
Three days later, U.S. envoy Dennis Ross took a similar shot at Israel. The headline in the Jerusalem Post summed it up: "Ross Criticizes Israel's Position on Wye." Not a word of criticism of the Palestinians' failure to implement their Wye commitments.
Now it's Gore's turn. On Jan. 14 Gore delivered his first speech to a Jewish audience since declaring his candidacy for the presidency. He chose to give the speech before the Israel Policy Forum, a small U.S. support group for the Israeli opposition Labor Party - a choice that some may see as indicating Gore's preference in the coming Israeli elections. One can only hope that was not Gore's intentions, since non-interference in an ally's domestic election campaigns should be a cardinal rule of U.S. foreign policy.
In any event, what Gore said was even more disturbing than where he said it. " The president and I call on both sides to implement Wye as signed with no new conditions," he said. That sounds fine on the surface, but as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted in its report of the speech,"Gore issued his call to both parties, but Israel has been the sole target of criticism from the Clinton administration for imposing such conditions."
Indeed, the phrase "new conditions" has become the Arabs' code-word for Israel's position that there must be Palestinian compliance before additional Israeli territorial concessions. According to Yasser Arafat, the Israel position is a "new condition." The truth is that it is not a new condition at all - it is simply what was agreed upon at Wye.
The Wye agreement contains a detailed time line for implementation. By specified dates, the Palestinians must carry out a variety of anti-terrorist actions, and Israel has to withdraw from certain territory. The agreement also contains a letter from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which says quite clearly that "actions in each stage of the time lines are to be completed by both sides before moving to the next stage." Albright did not say that Israel has to move on the next stage of concessions regardless of Palestinian non-compliance with the first stage.
Back in November, Israel immediately fulfilled its first stage obligation to surrender a portion of territory in the Northern Samaria region. But the Palestinians have not fulfilled their obligations. They haven't outlawed terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islam Jihad. They haven't confiscated the terrorists weapons, jailed wanted terrorists, or reduced the Palestinian Authority police force which is 50 percent larger than permitted by the Oslo and Wye accords. Nor have they put a halt to the anti-Israeli incitement that is published and broadcast in the Arafat controlled media.
Until the Palestinians keep the Wye obligations, Israel is not required to surrender any additional territory. That's what the Wye agreement itself specifies. Which means that Arafat, not Israel,.is the obstacle to peace - whether Al Gore and the State Department admit it or not.
The writer, a former U.S. senator from Minnesota, is honorary chairman of the Committee for a Secure Peace, a group of concerned citizens who want a secure peace for Israel. (Chicago Sun-Times Feb. 3)