Push for Israel-Hamas ceasefire highlights Jordan’s ‘untapped potential’

Jordanians demonstrate in solidarity with Palestinians, in Karameh, on May 21, 2021. Jordan has “untapped” diplomatic potential, experts said after the ceasefire. (Photo: AFP)
Jordanians demonstrate in solidarity with Palestinians, in Karameh, on May 21, 2021. Jordan has “untapped” diplomatic potential, experts said after the ceasefire. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — The recent ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Hamas and Israel has raised questions about Jordan’s  role in diplomatic efforts to pressure international actors and Israel to end the conflict. اضافة اعلان

Amman’s full-throttle diplomacy showed consistency in its messages to influential political circles and global gatherings: an immediate end to Israeli aggression and a political drive to address the root cause of the conflict, i.e., occupation, based on the two-state solution. 

However, some saw Jordan as a backup vocalist, while the lead role was taken successfully by Egypt, which was, according to analysts, logical, given the nature of Egypt’s relations with Gaza and its leaders.

Egypt’s “historical relations, proximity with Gaza, and already existing back channels” allowed it to play a major role in containing the conflict. A role that Jordan’s diplomacy could not emulate, a scholar said. 

“Jordan has a stance not to deal with factions, instead, it only deals with official and internationally recognized counterparts,” said Musa Shteiwi, a professor of sociology at Jordan University and former director of the Center for Strategic Studies. 

The academic believes that Jordan’s policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict limited the Kingdom’s options, minimized gains, and placed Jordan in the backseat of diplomatic efforts. 

“Jordan was not entirely absent but had a secondary role. Jordan must diverse its options whether officially or unofficially. The developments point towards an imminent unison between Palestinian actors,” he concluded. 

Atef Al-Joulani, editor in chief of the Islamist leaning Assabeel newspaper, said that Jordan’s “commendable efforts were clear since day one”. 

“The Palestinian cause is not considered to be an external issue for Jordan but internal, because it reflects directly on the Kingdom, and thus Jordan is protecting its interests when engaging in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” said Joulani. 

“The Kingdom’s role was welcomed by all Palestinian actors, especially among Hamas who encouraged Jordan to take a more active regional role,” added Joulani. 

Experts agreed that the conflict changed the balance of power and the dynamics of the conflict to the extent that “serious revisions must be considered by the Jordanian government in order to sustain and maintain a leading role as a peacemaker in the region.”

“What is required now is for Jordan to revisit its strategy, and to adopt an inclusive policy towards all Palestinian actors in order to cement its regional role,” added Joulani. 

Mohammad Momani, former minister of information and member of the Upper House of Parliament, said that Jordan’s steadfast stance on the conflict was recognized by all stakeholders. 

Jordan’s engagement “proved the sincerity, depth, and sensibility of the Jordanian stance towards the conflict. Since day one, Jordan’s diplomatic efforts were active and our diplomacy engaged with the world to pressure and exert a stance to stop the violence,” the Senator told Jordan News

Momani, added that “Jordan was supporting the Egyptian role and the Kingdom sees the success of Egypt in this issue in line with Jordanian interests.” 

Experts pointed out that the international community is seeking actors who have “effective channels of communications with all Palestinian bodies,” and Jordan could be one of those actors. 

Qatar and Egypt, despite having different approaches to political Islam, and Hamas in particular, managed to find a formula that helped both nations extend their influence and diplomacy across borders. 

“Despite Egypt’s approach towards the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, they managed to maintain non-political communication channels with Hamas,” said Shteiwi. 

Hamas has been designated as a terrorist group by most Western nations. 

“Qatar’s role was commended by international stakeholders despite having good relations with Hamas, and more engagement from Jordan towards all Palestinian actors will be welcomed by all,” concluded Joulani. 

Fahed Khitan, a Jordan News’ columnist, wrote in his Thursday op-ed: “Meanwhile, Egypt is making its presence and weight known, which acts in favor of the Arabs. This is where the need arises to implement strategies for trilateral cooperation between Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt — expanding its scope to include other Arab nations … The region is changing and stakeholder nations must keep up. Hamas is not merely a Palestinian platoon, but a major player in the Arab and regional equation that cannot be ignored.”

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