The Hashemite dynasty in Jordan is ripe for overthrow, and Israel should push it. Democratic elections will empower a Palestinian majority in Jordan; two-thirds of Jordanians are Palestinian, and Jordan is by all logic a Palestinian state. Few monarchies survive, and it is wishful thinking to hope the Jordanian dynasty friendly to Israel will last. A reckless government in Iraq or Syria might try to annex Jordan. In an Arab-Israeli war, Jordan would be of little use to Israel as a buffer; even if technically neutral, it could not stop Iraqi troops from crossing its territory.
The Jordanian dynasty is the lid on the simmering kettle of Jordan's Palestinian society. The Palestinian majority in Jordan resents its inadequate status. The dynasty relies increasingly on brute force and seeks both American guarantees and fundamentalist Islamic approval to shore itself up. That precarious balance will not last. If a Palestinian majority seizes power in Jordan, Israel should exploit the situation while she can.
Israel should re-evaluate the earlier plan of establishing a Palestinian state in Jordan, reducing the Israeli-Palestinian dispute from Palestinian statehood to the inclusion of the West Bank in their state. A Palestinian state in Jordan could be viable, unlike an insultingly small state in the West Bank, and not the source of perpetual anti-Israeli sentiment among Palestinians. Israel could promise secretly to help Palestinians stage a Putsch in Jordan in return for annulling Palestinian claims to Jewish Judea and Samaria. A semi-democratic, popularly supported Palestinian government in Jordan would be better for the West than an unstable, unpredictable monarchy. Now Israel has a chance to promote the coup: Jordan's Palestinian population is increasingly hostile to Western influence. Polls indicate the support sinking to four percent after the second Iraqi war. The Jordanian government listens to its Palestinian subjects, even to the extent of refusing to air the Shared Values commercials designed to convince Muslims that America is after Islamic terrorists, not Islam. Jordan does not curb anti-Israeli and anti-Western propaganda in its press and universities. It accommodates Israel because it fears reprisal and the United States for protection against Iraq. With Saddam gone, Jordan has little reason to side with the United States.
The West supported Kurdish independence from Iraq, at least autonomy, but is content for Turkish Kurds to remain Turkish citizens. The same logic applies to the Palestinians: transform Jordan or part of it into the Palestinian state and leave the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under Israeli sovereignty. Chomsky’s argument—that resettling Palestinians in Jordan is akin to suggesting Jews have their own jurisdiction in New York—is off base. Jews are not a majority in New York. Even if they were, they could not make it secede. New York is much farther from Israel than Jordan is from Palestine. Relocating a few dozen miles to Jordan does not affect Palestinian national aspirations. Insisting on a separate Palestinian state in the territories is like the Jews demanding a piece of New York for an independent Jewish state, in addition to the one they have in Israel. The Jordanian option is by far the most practical solution of the Palestinian problem.
The idea has legal sanction. Everyone understood that the initial arrangement under the British mandate established a Jewish Israel in all the territory of the mandate, including Jordan, but in 1922 the Council of the League of Nations excised what was to become Jordan from the Jewish homeland. Only when a British-affiliated tribal dynasty usurped power in Jordan was it necessary to carve out additional territory for the Palestinians living on land already allocated to Jewish Israel.
Sharia also sanctions ethnically homogenous states. Quoting the Prophet’s dictum, “Let there be no two religions in Arabia,” Caliph Umar relocated the Jews to Palestine and made it an preserve for non-Islamic groups in the region. Since most Islamic scholars say pious Muslims cannot live among infidels, Palestinians have no stake in the territory Umar gave to Jews—and, theoretically, to Christians as well.