The “Jordan is Palestine” Scheme is no Illusion

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (

Al-Akhbar Management

A Palestinian woman harvests wheat by hand on a farm in Khan Younis on the southern Gaza Strip 6 May 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

By: Nahed Hattar

Published Monday, May 7, 2012

The “Alternative Homeland” is a topic of incessant debate in Jordan.

There is vague general agreement that a US-backed Israeli scheme of this kind exists. But many believe it to be consigned to imperialist and Zionist filing cabinets, and that one can therefore suffice, at present, with rejecting it verbally.

However, the supporters of naturalization and quota-allocation believe it is merely a scarecrow, whose aim is to perpetuate the “diminished rights of Jordanian-Palestinians.”

Hard-line Jordanians, on the other hand, imagine it to be a coup-like “conspiracy” to change the legal status of the Jordanian state along with its name, flag, and institutions in order to create a Palestinian state in the country.

This is deemed in royal discourse to be an “illusion.” Supporters of the 1994 Wadi Araba treaty with Israel maintain the scheme was “buried” when Tel Aviv recognized the kingdom.

The Alternative Homeland is an old Zionist idea based on deeming historic Palestine to include Jordan too. Thus the partition of Palestine occurred in 1921, when an Arab emirate was established in the eastern part, and the Zionists therefore held exclusive rights to the western part.

But this scheme – and it is indeed a scheme, because it has not yet been fully realized – is not being kept in filing cabinets. Its implementation is being attempted on the ground. Anyone who dismisses it as a “scarecrow” is complicit in that.

Yet it is not a conspiracy either, nor an intended coup. Even when the scheme is fully implemented, there will be no change to the name of the Jordanian state, its flag, or its international status. There will be no question – as far as the plan’s American, Zionist, and comprador backers are concerned – of declaring a Palestinian state in Jordan. Rather, the change to be brought about (and which is already underway) concerns the country’s demographic and political makeup, and its social structure, local identity, and Arab ties.

When Abd al-Salam al-Majali, the former head of the Jordanian delegation in the peace negotiations with Israel, insists – repeatedly – that what he did in 1994 “buried” the Alternative Homeland, he is assuming that it entails an alternative state and an alternative regime. That, of course, is an “illusion,” and it needs no burying.

The Alternative Homeland is a process. It is the product of a series of actions which began with the forcible annexation of the West Bank to Jordan and the naturalization of its residents and refugees – against the wishes of the people and their patriotic forces. This course was confirmed by the open-bridges policy applied to the West Bank after 1967. It was strengthened by the distinction made between refugees and displaced persons in Jordan and the rest of the Palestinian people. And it was consolidated in the 1994 Wadi Araba treaty – in which resettlement is stipulated in Article 8 – and subsequently in the ongoing policy of facilitating migration, naturalization, and resettlement.

The process of creating the Alternative Homeland consists of three parallel measures.

First, an independent and sovereign Palestinian state that would be able to rebuild Palestinian society and reabsorb those displaced from the territories occupied in 1967 – or even accommodate the natural population growth of the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip – must not be established. This would be achieved by maintaining the occupation, expanding settlements, separating Palestinian enclaves geographically, besieging them, repressing the population etc., and also by preventing the refugees from returning to their homeland in the 1948 areas.

Second, the parties tacitly agree that the demographic problem caused by Israel’s policy of destroying the Palestinian people should be resolved in Jordan. But that can only be done effectively and sustainably by preparing the political ground in the host country. Hence the raising of demands related to supposedly diminished rights and the allocation of political quotas.

Third, in order to redress these diminished rights by entrenching a system of demographically-based political quotas, Jordan’s national identity must be changed – not by making it Palestinian, but by neutralizing it in favor of a non-nationalist globalized model which focuses on the primacy of “business” values, and dispenses with notions of heritage, patriotism, and social progress. As Jordanian nationalism has historically been based on the state and the public sector, these must be dismantled. That is what we have been experiencing since the neo-liberals assumed control of decision-making at the turn of the millennium.

Against this backdrop, it is noteworthy that the patriotic social movement that has emerged in Jordan over the past two years espouses a program calling for Jordanians – of all affiliations and origins – to unite in a single national movement that makes the connection between confronting US intervention and resisting hostile Israeli plans, and demanding radical domestic reforms, including the revival of the public sector.

The Alternative Homeland scheme, therefore, is a cumulative process aimed at creating the necessary conditions for Jordan to absorb the political and demographic fallout from Israel’s seizure and occupation of Palestine. By agreeing to peace with Israel without its withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, without the establishment of a Palestinian state, and without the return of the refugees, the Wadi Araba Treaty consolidated that scheme.

Nahed Hattar is a Jordanian writer.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar's editorial policy.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


A good read on the future of Jordan's Palestinians can be found here:

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top