Full Spectrum Jordan: What Peace with a Settler State?

Israeli settlers
(Photo: Twitter/X)
Several pieces have talked about how October 7th and the thousands killed in Gaza, by Israel, afterwards will change the middle east - myself included. However, the middle east changed before October 7th. Specifically, the drastic change in Israeli domestic politics. اضافة اعلان

Israel has shifted from a security state to a settler state, this is a process that has taken years and has been extensively documented. Major institutions have been taken over by the settler movement through bureaucracy and elected power has been taken through political parties. Longtime figures, like Netanyahu, now cater to settler politics. 

Recently, numerous pieces has covered settler demands and settler plans. Whether it is pushing out Palestinians from the west bank, settling north Gaza or acting on the thought that Egypt will eventually take refugees. 

The question is, is the west negotiating and working with todays settler state or with the security state of the past - which may not exist anymore?

Three Things You Should Know: 1- Settler state vs security state: Israel has transitioned from a security state to a settler state, and it has mostly happened under the governments of Benjamin Netanyahu. The security state focused on citizen engagement, border security, mass surveillance and the much-feared intelligence services. The settler state is not about borders and walls for protection, it is looking for expansion - even to the extent of forced removals. Settler demands are clear: claiming the territory, financial support for continued construction and expansion of settlements, support for already existing infrastructure and cracking down on Palestinian construction. What is more important is what they are not focused on, recognition from Arab states, Palestinian statehood or accepting Palestinians in a single state. Where should the Palestinians go? Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. And why should these countries accept them? According Weiss, a settlement leader, to escape bombing just like the Ukrainians who escaped Russian bombing went to France. 

2- What was the Wadi Araba agreement? If you look at it through the lens of a security state, it was about securing a border, building intelligence cooperation, and reducing threats. If you look at it through the lens of a settler state, than Wadi Araba was containment - limit Jordan’s role and not worry about them. It is not about bringing Jordan closer but keeping Jordan out. For security services looking to stabilize Israel, Jordan is a neighboring bulwark. For settlers looking at expansion and further destruction of Palestine, Jordan is a threat and a spoiler. The settler mindset is to contain Jordan, demoralize and co-opt the Palestinian authority, then radicalize and isolate Hamas in Gaza. All that is left,  is to remove Jordanian custodianship over the holy sites. Netanyahu sees Wadi Araba as a containment strategy not a cooperation strategy. Which makes sense about the Abraham accords in sidelining Jordan - what if sidelining Jordan is not a Trump strategy but a Netanyahu strategy. Those Israeli politicians and retired generals that attend roundtables and seminars and talk about recognition and Oslo accords are no longer the people that control the judiciary, the military or the Knesset. 

3- The International Role in Gaza: There have been so many predictions of who will be involved in Gaza. 1. Palestinian authority. This is a western and Arab hope but Israel has been steadfast that it will not allow this. 2., Arab coalition. An aspirational ideal but very unlikely, foreign minster Safadi has already said that Arab states “will not come and clean the mess after Israel and “they will not be seen as the enemy” and Israel has rejected this idea. 3. The UN. If you would like to guess, Israel has rejected this idea. 4. A “Western Force”? Israel hasn’t rejected this yet! But it is the least likely - how would this work? Would German troops turn back armed Israeli settlers to protect Gazans? Would NATO soldiers stand by as Gazans are forcibly displaced? Any sane leader would be concerned about their government being held liable or complicit. None of these options is viable, the security state wants to deracinate Hamas, the settler state is looking to move, two different goals with one commonality - the destruction of life for Gazans. 

My Take: If you follow Jordanian statements on Gaza, you will notice that all of them revolve around the main issue - a Palestinian state. Jordan is well aware it is now in a peace treaty with a settler expansionist state - one that is very different from the security state of 1994 with which King Hussein signed an agreement. Most recently, Safadi pointed this out at Manama

Washington may not yet see it. While the Biden administration is now showing concern about South Gaza and further civilian deaths,  the reality on the ground remains - this administration is arming a settler state. It is providing military, diplomatic and political cover for a the most right wing Israeli government in the state’s history. This Netanyahu government gave rise to land seizures and violence and its prime minister recently shrugged off the goals of the Oslo Accords as a “mistake” that he will not allow to happen again. 

You may see a theme. This is again the West needing to engage partners, and listen to allies like Jordan. In a recent op-ed Biden likened Hamas to Russia as aggressors the US should stand up to. In a recent interview, a settler leader compared Gazans to Ukrainians who should be welcomed elsewhere. Two different worldviews and yet one side thinks it is engaged and informed (guess which one). This isn’t just to attack Washington, what exactly is Germany’s endgame? Although, Macron seems to now understand the gravity of what is happening.

It is easy to criticize the West or demand they listen to Arab voices on Middle East affairs. But for now we just need to convince them that the Middle East has already changed. 1) This type of conflict has never occurred with social media where every phone is a camera and a link to global audiences (that deserves a full research paper and 2) Israel has evolved from a security state to a settler state.

Katrina Sammour was first published on Full Spectrum Jordan, a weekly newsletter on SubStack. 

Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Jordan News' point of view.

Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News