Sunday, January 3, 2010

Problems With The Israeli Jordanian Peace Treaty

An Israeli judge Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein has hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel has had only limited success because some of the clauses, including those related to cultural and religious exchanges have not been fully implemented.

The same argument made by Rubinstein about Jordan can also be made about Egypt. It is not enough for the governments of the countries in question to have non-hostile political relations, and the absence of war does not equal peace. What is needed is for the people of these countries to come to know one another as individuals, through things like student exchanges, and culturally, through things like art exhibits traveling through the region, or musical groups touring different communities. Unless the people of the region begin to see one another as peers, with similar basic interests and goals, then the peace between Israel and Jordan and Israel and Egypt will never truly be ratified.

The judge points out how water has been a source of conflict between Jordan and Israel. This seems to be a strange claim. Perhaps during and prior to a final peace agreement negotiations over water issues were difficult, but even in this time of drought, they do not seem to be. As recent events illustrate, Jordan and Israel have been implementing their agreements on water quite well. These types of incidents serve as a bond between the two countries. One that will likely have a role in deepening ties, rather than widening them.

Also interesting in the judge's comments was that the Israeli signing of the Oslo accords with the Palestinians created trouble between Jordan and Israel (this, of course was prior to the signing of the peace agreement with Jordan.) The reason Jordan was so upset is best expressed in the following quote:
"The official Jordanian reaction to the surprise announcement of the Oslo accords was shaped by two main reservations. First, Jordanian officials felt "duped" by the PLO’s secret negotiations. While the PLO was negotiating secretly in Oslo, it had also been working with Jordan on coordinating committees for the Washington talks. Jordan had felt that it was the natural partner to link the Israelis and the PLO during in peace negotiations. However, no mention of the direct contacts between the PLO and the Israeli government under the aegis of Norway had been revealed to the Jordanians. Second, the Jordanians held reservations about the nature of the "interim" agreement. Jordanian leaders feared that Jericho might become a dumping ground for Palestinians who would then be eventually evicted to Jordan. King Hussein also wanted more information on what direction such the interim agreement was intended to head. However, once the King was briefed by Yasir Arafat on September 3, 1993, he gave his full support to the PLO and the Oslo agreement."
Basically, Jordan was upset because they felt that they had been sidelined from a role that should naturally have been theirs, that they were not kept in the loop and that they did not know how this development will affect them. The idea of Jordan acting as a mediator, however, is somewhat curious. Given that Jordan did not yet have peace with Israel, it's unclear how they could have been a mediator, unless of course, they had hoped to sign peace with Israel before Israel signed the Oslo accords.

In all cases, kudos to Supreme Court Justice Rubinstein for saying what needs to be said and shame on those in a position to remedy this situation why have not.

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