Keys to the Kingdom
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Building Bridges East and West

Attention switched from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Arabian Gulf in 1980 when war erupted between Iraq and Iran. Throughout the eight-year war, Jordan, along with the United States, France and Arabian Gulf countries, supported Iraq against the threat of Iranian revolutionary expansionism. Nonetheless, Jordan always called for a peaceful settlement to the war, which, in the end, claimed around one million lives. It was during this time that trade between Jordan and Iraq began to flourish. In particular, the supply line from Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba overland into Iraq assumed major strategic importance, contributing significantly to the development of the Jordanian economy. This was due in part to the disruption of political and economic ties between Syria and Iraq, as Syria allied itself with Iran and halted trade with Iraq.

Although Jordan continued to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, King Hussein recognized that the continuing refusal of Israel and the United States to negotiate with the PLO had stonewalled any prospects for movement in the peace process. Therefore, after consulting with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, he offered on February 11, 1985 to coordinate negotiations with Israel under a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. The agreement confirmed the principle of confederation between Jordan and an otherwise independent Palestinian state to be set up in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the Israeli government’s rejection of negotiations, combined with opposition from within the PLO, derailed this initiative.