Sunday, January 1, 2012

Palestine? N.I.M.K.

As Jordan prepares to host the first talks between Israel and Palestinians in over a year, Ethan Bronner outlines the kingdom's aims and stakes:

King Abdullah is...eager to send a message to Hamas, the militant Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip, that despite the rise of Islamism in the region, the Palestinian Authority remains, in his view, the leader of the Palestinians. Mr. Abbas has started talks for a unity government with Hamas, but they are proceeding slowly.

The king also has a very specific interest in a moderate Palestinian state being established in the West Bank and Gaza — he has tensions with Islamists in his own country and in addition, he does not want to encourage any thoughts of a Palestinian state being established in Jordan instead, as some on the Israeli right advocate. More than half of the inhabitants of Jordan are Palestinian.

Jordan and Israel share a common interest in focusing Palestinian nationalism on the West Bank and Gaza to prevent its being focused on either of their states. Mr. Netanyahu and his aides say they also worry that any Palestinian state in the West Bank would ultimately be overrun by Islamists.

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