In this public letter to Jordans prime minister, His Majesty outlined Jordans continued support for the Palestinians and their leadership in the quest for their rights, and clarified the Jordanian position in regards to certain issues to be addressed in the final status phase of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. King Husseins letter came in response to statements attributed to Israeli officials that Jordan was against the creation of a Palestinian state and that it supported Israels decision to retain areas along the Jordan Valley for Jordanian security.
His Majesty rejected these suggestions as baseless and said that This is used as a pretext to prevent an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian land on the Jordan River. The monarch continued by accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu of attempting to demolish the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo agreements, and change the very essence and facets of the peace process. Also, King Hussein outlined Jordans stand regarding issues such as settlements, borders, sovereignty, the Holy Sites of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, security and water, that will be tackled during final status negotiations.
Letter to Prime Minister Abdel Salaam al-Majali
December 4, 1997
(Translated from the original Arabic)
His Excellency Dr. Abdel Salaam Al-Majali, our dear Prime Minister,
Peace be upon you and God's mercy and blessings.
You have, in the past as well as the present, enjoyed my utmost trust and confidence as Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Today, I renew this confidence in you, one that I have no doubt is shared by the majority of Jordanians of all origins; children of this very state that embraces them and others who may differ with you and us in opinion and stance, as long as this is done within the framework of constructive initiatives, noble objectives and sincere loyalty to a nation built on a true sense of belonging. When we, along with other Jordanians, renew our confidence in your person as Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, it is because we have known you to be a man of integrity and sincerity; courageous in the fight for right and good, honest in carrying out the duties you have been charged with, and a companion in the march to build our nation.
I address this letter to you following the opening of the Thirteenth Parliament brought about by elections that were fair by any standards. Through these elections, the people chose a group of representatives from the very core of this land, thus contributing to the making of a bright present and, with God's help, a promising future for future generations to enjoy. The people spoke their word concerning the features of the coming phase, as responsible supervisors and full partners of the executive and judicial branches. By God's grace, all stand united on the firm ground of reality, cultivating all that is good, just and blessed; creating progress and prosperity, and proudly protecting all this with their dearest possessionstheir lives and soulsfrom the powers of destruction, distortion, doubt and defamation, both within officialdom and without. This is the genuine belonging to a steadfast Jordan that is in the heart of its larger Arab nation. Jordan has always adopted stances based on principle and has accomplished a great deal, being the fortress that it is, in the face of all trials and tribulations.
This is not surprising, for Jordan emanates from the tradition of the Great Arab Revolt and carries its banner and lofty ideals. The sacrifices made for Palestine by the Hashemite leaders of the Revolt, and the suffering they incurred as a result of honorable, responsible and courageous stands, in word as well as in deed, are thus far and until the Day of Judgment second to none. In doing so they had no ulterior motive, no hidden ambitions or quests and all they sought was the blessing of God and a clear conscience in anticipation of being judged favorably by future generations whom they worked for in earnest.
These are times characterized by uncertainty and confusion, even bordering on apprehension towards the quest for a just and comprehensive peace, in the wake of what appears to be a continuous attempt on the part of the Israeli prime minister to demolish the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo agreements, and change the very essence and facets of the peace process. His emphasis seems to be on the objective of implanting a fear of peace in the Israeli society, instead of a serious drive towards attaining it as a means to remove all the causes of fear, and instilling the elements of mutual respect, confidence and collaboration between equals, in order to avert a certain coming catastrophe in its absence. Such a catastrophe, God forbid, will not spare the Israeli people nor the Arab people, foremost among them the Palestinians. Perhaps not even the entire world. Unfortunately, it is a small group of enemies of peace and life, advocates of death, despair and destruction in both Israel and the Arab world, that has led everyone towards this state of worry and anxiety.
It has become necessary for all of us, in light of these complex circumstances, to recall and identify clearly the bare facts of the well-known Jordanian position vis-a-vis the ongoing peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, in order to determine the obligations of the interim phase: in particular, Israel's obligation towards all the articles of the Declaration of Principles, the Cairo Agreements, and the Hebron agreementwhich we had the honor to achieve and realizeand ensuring the Israeli withdrawal from all the areas agreed upon in the middle of next year.
Our position with regards to these negotiations is total support for our Palestinian brethren and their sole and legitimate leadership, which we have recognized and endorsed since the Rabat Summit of 1974, in line with Palestinian and Arab wishes at the time and all that this entailed. This did not absolve us of the moral and national responsibility of addressing the Palestinian problem throughout, including the period of the Madrid Peace Conference, which enabled us to guide our Palestinian brethren to the negotiating table as an equal partner in the quest to make peace. This continued until we heard, along with the rest of the world, of the signing of the Oslo agreement. Following that, we turned to solving the question of Jordanian-Israeli peace in fulfillment of our duty towards the nation and generations to come.
Recently, we have noticed that some Israeli circles go far in presuming to speak in the name of Jordan by claiming that our security will be compromised in the event of the rise of a Palestinian state. This is used as a pretext to prevent an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian land on the Jordan River, by claiming that our security and theirs require such an unfair decision that deprives our brethren of their rights. These claims are baseless and they are categorically and unequivocally rejected. We felt that this needed to be clarified, not at the national level, for Jordanians are fully aware of our positions, but at the international level in order for the truth to be highlighted, lest it be distorted in any way, shape or form. Jordan does not fear anyone in this neighborhood. For the Palestinians are our brethren, and Israel and Jordan are bound by a peace treaty. In any event, Jordan is quite capable of defending itself and bears the responsibility for that.
In so far as other fields are concerned, we have always called for the urgency of answering the question of where will final status lead? The answer to this question concerns us strictly from the point of view of our national interest. Because we believe that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiating track has become, following the Oslo Accords, independent of any external dominance or influence. At the end of the interim period, seven major issues will remain pending negotiations between the two sides, namely: Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, water, security and sovereignty.
As for Jerusalem, we have declared our position more than once, in that the land of Jerusalem occupied in 1967 is Arab land subject to the terms of reference for peace, based on the land-for-peace formula. With regards to the Holy Places, the rights of all monotheistic religionsIslam, Christianity and Judaismshould be respected equally, and above the sovereign considerations of any state, to become the symbol of peace between all the People of the Book, the descendants of the Children of Abraham, peace be upon him. In view of the special status of the Islamic sites in Jerusalem, and because of Israel's unilateral and illegal decision to annex Jerusalem, we have included, in Article Nine of the Jordanian-Israeli Peace treaty, a clause that commits Israel to respect the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Holy Shrines in Jerusalem. Therefore, Jordan's historic role will be given priority during final status negotiations. This clause does not in any way infringe upon the right of our brethren to establish their own state, with its capital in Jerusalem. Nor does it mean that Jordan wishes to impose on Islamic, Arab and Palestinian rights in the Holy City. Our role therefore is one of support for and assistance to our Palestinian brethren, just as much as we have a constructive role in achieving the peace of the believers, one that is honorable, just and lasting, God willing.
As for refugees, we must remember that Jordan is the largest host country of Palestinian refugees, most of whom hold the Jordanian citizenship, as honorable citizens, who share our rights and duties until their problem is solved with return and/or compensation. At that juncture, they will make their own free choice when we, along with the Arab negotiating parties, succeed in securing them these rights. On September 14, 1993, we signed the Jordanian-Israeli Common Agenda, which included an article on bilateral negotiations on refugees residing in Jordan, and an article on multilateral negotiations on the rights of refugees and displaced persons until their problem is solved.
However, the Oslo accords and the Cairo agreement in early May 1994 led to the postponement of the refugees issue until final status. For this reason, the article dealing with refugees in the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty, signed on October 26, 1994, stipulates that both signatories work to resolve the issue of refugees in accordance with international law, and relevant international resolutions in an agreed upon bilateral framework, in conjunction with, and at the same time as, the special negotiations on the permanent status pertaining to the territories referred to in the second paragraph of Article Three, that is, the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. Based on that, we will resume multilateral negotiations on refugees in coordination with our Palestinian brethren over the rights of refugees.
As concerns displaced persons, we continued to exert every effort to resolve the issue. Displaced persons are Jordanian brothers and sisters who were forcibly displaced by occupation. Still, their right to return to their homes and properties, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 237 and international law, has been attached to Article Twelve of the Oslo Accords. Out of respect for our brethren, we have acknowledged the wording they agreed to and have included the substance of it in Paragraph 2.A of Article Eight of the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty. This stipulates that the problems of displaced persons should be resolved through a quadripartite Jordanian-Palestinian-Egyptian-Israeli committee. We will work to revive the committee and support our Palestinian brethren and preserve the full right of displaced persons to choose to remain in Jordan or return to their domiciles.
As for boundaries with the Palestinian lands, we have reiterated our absolute respect for them through our insistence that the (Jordanian-Israeli) Treaty include Paragraph Two of Article Three, which states the following:
"The boundary as set out in Annex 1.A is the permanent, secure and recognized international boundary between Jordan and Israel without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967."
With that text we have postponed demarcating the borders with Palestinian lands until the end of negotiations pertaining to permanent status. Although the postponement of border demarcation until final status has obstructed the opportunities for movement of people and goods between Jordan and the Palestinian land, and delayed the economic and trade opening with Jordan, we still shouldered our responsibilities towards our brethren in this regard with the open-mindedness that has always characterized our positions since the days when we kept the bridges open throughout the period of occupation since 1967. We welcome economic and trade interaction with the Palestinian brethren, and the creation of investment opportunities for them in Jordan, and through Jordan with the rest of the world. It is our wish that the government study expediently the possibility of erecting bridges on the river and consolidating them without harming their rights, and in full coordination with them.
As for water, we have succeeded on the bilateral level to regain our rights in that respect. We have entered with Israel into agreements that respect the rightful allocations of each party. These agreements call for advancing cooperation to preserve existing resources and to prevent their contamination, and for regional cooperation to increase future availability. While regaining our water rights has thus far been partial, due to the need to build diversion dams and other projects that would guarantee our full rights, we have rejected and continue to reject the building of dams on sites that would compromise Arab rights.
With regard to security, the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty is unambiguous. Article Four and the ensuing paragraphs stipulate that each party will consolidate the security of the other; refrain from the threat of use of force or weapons, conventional, non-conventional or of any other kind, and take necessary and effective measures to prevent acts or threats of belligerency, subversion or violence against the other party.
The article on the international boundary ensured permanent, secure and recognized borders. Emphasizing these notions, Article Two contained general principles in which both parties recognize and respect each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence, as well as respect each other's right to live in peace, within secure and recognized boundaries, and that they respect and recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every state in the region. While we believe in our ability to provide ourselves with comprehensive security and to respect the security of others, we insist on the principle of reciprocity and mutual respect in this regard.
As for the building of settlements, our position is quite clear. It is in violation of international law and contravenes the Palestinian-Israeli agreement, which precludes each party from taking unilateral actions that prejudice the outcome of issues to be dealt with in the final status negotiations. Settlement building entails many dangers, foremost among which is harming Palestinian rights to land, water, agriculture and industry, forcing them to migrate. Therefore, we adhere to the sixth principle of Article Two of the Peace Treaty, which stipulates that involuntary movements of persons in such a way as to adversely prejudice the security of either party should not be permitted.
Our relations with Israel in the other spheres of the peace treaty must be respected by both parties. Some articles have been implemented in the areas of air transport, commerce, agriculture, water, roads, combating smuggling, tourism, the environment, energy, and civil aviation, as well as in Aqaba and Eilat. We have established political and diplomatic relations and exchanged ambassadors. Many of these projects have brought along mutual benefits. We believe that peace is not just signed papers, but rather a contract between generations for the building of a more promising and less threatening future. The overlapping of Jordanian and Palestinian interests in the interim period and final status negotiations requires us to coordinate with our brethren and to use our utmost potential to support their rights, while having full respect for the independence of their negotiating track, and for their absolute right to negotiate their own rights.
These are the premises that I and my government adopt, are guided by, and will do our utmost to fulfill. I have confidence that these orientations are those of the government, and that they represent its foreign, domestic and media policies. They are to remain clear and transparent to the Parliament and to the entire Jordanian people. They should emanate from the sole objective of serving their interest and that of their posterity, as well as the interest of achieving a just and comprehensive peace for coming generations and having the Palestinian people attain their full rights on their national soil.
May peace be upon you and God's mercy and blessings.
Letter to Prime Minister Abdel Salaam al-Majali
December 4, 1997