print
memri
January 25, 2018 No.
7299

Former Jordanian Information Minister Following U.S. Vice President Pence's Amman Visit: Israel Will Disappear Soon; U.S. Will Lose Its Global Hegemony

On January 20, 2018, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made a brief visit to Jordan as part of a tour that also included Egypt and Israel. This was the first visit to the region by a senior U.S. official since U.S. President Trump's December 6, 2017 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and pledging to move the U.S. embassy there – an announcement that angered the Jordanian public and administration.[1] The visit was therefore held amid ongoing protests, as well as political controversy between Jordan and the U.S. Ahead of Pence's arrival, Jordanians demonstrated against it,[2] and calls to cancel it were heard from the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood as well.[3] At the same time, a few articles in the Jordanian press advocated taking a realistic position and accepting the visit.[4]  

In a statement before his meeting with Pence, Jordan's King 'Abdallah said: "Our wide-ranging discussions today, I believe, are timely. And, as always, as friends and partners, we will be candid and frank with each other... I had continuously voiced, over the past year, in my meetings with Washington, my concerns regarding the U.S. decision on Jerusalem that does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict... For us, Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews. It is key to peace in the region..." Pence said in response: "We take no position on boundaries and final status [of Jerusalem]. Those are subject to negotiation." [5]


U.S. Vice President Pence with King 'Abdallah (image: Al-Rai, Jordan, January 21, 2018)

The scant coverage of the visit in the Jordanian press and the cool welcome Pence received (he was met at the airport by a low-level delegation which included the mayor of Amman but no government ministers) indicated the Jordanian administration's displeasure.[6] Pence himself did not conceal the disagreement between the two countries when he said at the end of the visit that he and the King had "agreed to disagree." [7] The Jordanian press did not report this last remark by Pence. A January 22 editorial about the meeting published in the government daily Al-Rai said: "What [Jordan] says behind closed doors is never different from what it [openly] declares. [Its statements] correspond to the conviction of the Jordanian leadership, that the supreme interests of Jordan and the undeniable national and Arab rights are the top priority for Jordan's diplomacy, especially in the matter of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict... No passing incident or attempt to erase facts will change Jordan's well-known and declared positions."[8]

In an article published January 23, 2018 in the government daily Al-Rai, former Jordanian information minister Saleh Al-Qallab slammed the U.S. position on Jerusalem. In the article, headed "Pence – Who Does He Think He's Fooling?", he wrote that the U.S. vice president – who he said was behind Trump's Jerusalem announcement – was trying to deceive the Arabs by saying that the borders of Jerusalem would be subject to negotiations. Al-Qallab threatened that any attempt to annex Al-Aqsa and East Jerusalem neighborhoods to Abu Dis, and make this town (rather than Jerusalem) into the capital of Palestine, would be rejected and would be a cause for fighting. "Death with honor and pride, no matter what, is preferable to a life of humiliation and wretchedness," he stated. He added that the Arabs oppose Israel's existence and that it is sure to disappear soon.

It should be noted that, ahead of the visit, Al-Qallab supported holding it, writing on January 11 that refusing to receive Pence would be "a grave mistake" and would "put new ammunition in the hands of the arrogant Israeli extremists."[9]   

The following are translated excerpts from Al-Qallab's January 23 article:

"Mike Pence tricked us by saying that 'the borders of Jerusalem will be determined in future negotiations' – while he prepared the despicable and unacceptable statement of his master, Donald Trump, with which [Trump] gave away something that does not belong to him [Jerusalem] to someone who is unentitled to it [Israel], and granted [Israel] the entire Arab holy city – including [both] the part that was occupied in 1948 and the part that was occupied in 1967 – for it to be the eternal capital of Israel, [the state] whose existence is opposed by the Arab conscience and that will certainly disappear one of these days, soon, just as the European Crusaders and all the invaders disappeared from the great national [Arab] homeland. [Just as] all the invaders – the Mongols, the British, the French, the Spanish, and even the Safavids [Persians[10]] – disappeared, so will the Iranians, Americans, and Turks, and all the sectarian gangs [to which] the wretched [Syrian] regime... opened the gates of Greater Syria.

"I am no fortuneteller, but I don't just think – I'm absolutely certain – that 'leaving the borders of Jerusalem for future negotiations' means annexing the Al-Aqsa mosque area and the Dome of the Rock, and perhaps also the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, to the villages of Abu Dis and Al-'Azariya and also [annexing] the Silwan and A-Tur [neighborhoods of Jerusalem] to them, so that [only] Israel retains the name 'Jerusalem,' in accordance with Trump's despicable declaration. It is reasonable to assume that [such a scenario] will be completely rejected and will be a cause for fighting.

"Jerusalem, which has significance for us as Palestinians, as Arabs, as Muslims, and as Christians, is the ancient Jerusalem that includes Al-Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the Wall of Buraq [i.e. the Western Wall], the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Mosque of Omar, and the Holy Tomb; what we call East Jerusalem will doubtless be the capital of an independent Palestinian state in the June 1967 borders. [All this] comes in the framework of the current lamentable circumstances that are forcing us to recognize the so-called West Jerusalem as capital of the occupier Israel – that is, there will be no concessions on the name Al-Quds Al-Sharif [the holy Jerusalem] and on the 1948 ceasefire lines – but there will be agreement on the existence of another Jerusalem, the one occupied on the above date [1948], and that over time has come to be called West Jerusalem.

"We Jordanians [did the right thing by] not refusing to receive Trump's vice president, as our Palestinian brothers did – and they are fully entitled to do this – because we wanted to know what is new on this issue in the American administration. But if Mike Pence came only to cheat us and say that the borders of Jerusalem, which was given by the president to Israel as a gift for its eternal united capital, will be determined through future negotiations, we oppose this and will not be able to accept this. This is because death with honor and pride, no matter what, is preferable to a life of humiliation and wretchedness.

"Perhaps this Pence – who is more Zionist than Trump and Netanyahu – did not really study the history of our land, and does not know that the fate of this state – the Zionist, not Jewish, and artificial [state] that was, is, and will always be an imperialist project – will be the same as that of all the invaders that desecrated this sacred land with their feet and breath. For this very reason, the vice president must look through the old diaries of his family, if he has European roots, so as to become convinced that the fate of these Zionists – not the Jews – will be the same as that of his European forebears, who left Palestine and all our [Arab] lands after 200 years, when they fled in terror to save their lives.

"Mike Pence must know, and understand, that if he and his ilk among the American Zionists think that what their top official [i.e. President Trump] said... will be accepted as the word of God, then he is making a big mistake, and his considerations are completely defective and illogical. A century ago, and for many years, Great Britain ruled alone in the entire world – yet here it is now, shrunken down to its island and threatened with division and disintegration. This most certainly will be the fate of the U.S., as long as its president is this stupid idiot, and now that it has begun to lose [its status] as the one and only leader [of the world] to the new axes of forces now rising in the world – among them the Chinese axis, the Russian axis, and, perhaps, the German axis and the Indian axis."[11]


Cartoon in Jordanian government daily Al-Rai: Jerusalem is an explosive issue (Al-Rai, Jordan, January 23, 2018)

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7220, Jordanian Writers Try To Quell Anger At U.S., Warn Against Targeting Americans, December 11, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6, 2017 announcement of American recognition.

[2] Arabic.sputniknews.com, January 20, 2017.

[3] Al-Ghad (Jordan), January 13, 2018; Al-Sabil (Jordan), albosala.com, January 21, 2018.

[4] See article by Fahd Al-Khitan titled "Pence in Amman – Why Not?!" (Al-Ghad, Jordan, January 14, 2017); and an article by Al-Dustour board chairman and former minister Muhammad Al-Daoudiya (Al-Dustour, Jordan, January 15, 2018).

[5] Whitehouse.gov, January 21, 2018.

[6] According to the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the U.S. embassy in Amman expressed displeasure at this.  Alquds.co.uk, January 22, 2018.

[7] Reuters.com, January 21, 2018.

[8] Al-Rai (Jordan), January 22, 2017.

[9] Al-Rai (Jordan), January 11, 2018.

[10] The name of the Safavids, the Persian dynasty that ruled from the 16th to the 18th century, is used derogatorily for Iran in today's Arab media.

[11] Al-Rai (Jordan), January 23, 2018.