Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hamas' leaders and Jordan

The impending visit by Hamas leader to Jordan seems to be the subject of discussions in the region. Elaph reports that the Qataris are mediating to arrange the visit. The major stumbling block is Khaled Mesha'al, who was given the choice in 1999 between retaining his leadership role in Hamas and staying in Jordan. He chose the former. The government's argument then and now is that it is inappropriate for a Jordanian national to hold a leadership position in an outside organization or government. Other issues, as I noted before, were Hamas' interference in Jordanian security and politics.

A few days ago, another Hamas leader, Mohammad Nazzal, made the astonishing statement that Hamas does not recognize the disengagement decision of 1988, by which Jordan renounced claims to the West Bank and withdrew Jordanian citizenship from residents of the WB. Samih Ma'aitah discussed this in Al Ghad a couple of days ago. Because of his Islamist tendencies, Ma'aitah (probably driven by embarrassment) tried to portray the statement as an individual mistake driven by a selfish desire to retain Jordanian citizenship without understanding the broader consequences of this position. I find this hard to swallow, and I am waiting for other Hamas leaders to explain what their position is on this statement.

Saleh Gallab, a vocal opponent of Hamas interference in Jordan, took a less generous view of this statement, saying flatly that "It is clear from Nazzal's statement that there is a [Hamas] intention to use [the Palestinian election] victory to go back to it it's old habits, to interfere in Jordanian internal affairs, and renew it's previous attempts (a generous word) to control the MB and the IAF. All of this would be a huge affront to the warm relations between two brotherly peoples, the Palestinians and the Jordanians, and an attack on the national unity of Jordan" (it sounds better in Arabic).

I find it amusing that many people are optimistic that Hamas will eventually be able to cut a deal with Israel, while it seems hesitant to recognize Jordan's sovereignty. Jordan must deal with Hamas on the basis of preservation of Jordan's national interests. If this is not possible, so be it. As Abderaouf Rawabdeh said "We will not be intimidated in our position by a threat we remember, or coercion we were aware of, or allegations that forgo justice and truth".



At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The government's decision in 1999 to deport Jordanian citizens from the country because they were members of Hamas was unconstitutional. Article 9-i from the Jordanian constitution clearly states that "No Jordanian may be deported from the territory of the Kingdom."

This is why we should say that "the major stumbling block is the government's unconstitutional treatment of Khalid Mash3al".

This is about the issue of welcoming the new Palestinian leadership in Jordan.

About the disengagement, I think Hamas has to drop this "we don't recognize the disengagement" talk, because without this disengagement, any talk about a Palestinian state or Palestinian parliament (which Hamas just won and I assume would like to kep) would be invalid.

Also, there is already contradiction in Hamas' stand with regards to the PLO and the disengagement. Hamas recognizes that the PLO is the sole representative of the Palestinian people. That directly contradicts with Jordan claiming any kind of sovereignty over the West Bank.

I hope Hamas quickly realizes the existance of this contradiction in its statements and that they realize the amount of trouble it might cause for them and others and that they resolve it as soon as possible.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Omar said...

The last statement by Nazzal is obviousley not smart and shallow, just like Hamzeh said, any talk about the current political state in palestine would be then invalid!

I'm hoping to see a correction among the few upcoming days by a much aware voice in Hamas,

Now, I agree with Saleh al Gallab most of the time, but have to admit that the man is totally against Hamas, and probably has issues concerning palestinians, so his opinion is out of credibility here..

At 3:10 AM, Blogger Rami said...


You tend to view Jordan-Palestine as a rivalry between USA-Soviet Union. In your mind there is a Cold War, strategic interests at stake, deception, spying, undermining each other, there is a hidden agenda...etc.

Why is this mindset prevalent East of the Bank? Nazzal's statment of not recognizing the 1988 decision is more of a rejection of anything coming from the King in Jordan. Maybe personal enmity he couldn't contain. But it should be kept at just that level.

As you are very strongly a nationalist, I want to pose a hypothetical question to you, had the British established two countries East of the Jordan, one around Ajloun and another in the south (the Hashemite one being in the South), would you have felt this rivalry towards the "other", even though under another scenario, the "other" is your current King.

It is the "3asabeyyeh" mentality that is our enemy, not Hamas or the Palestinians.

And regarding Saleh Gallab, wasn't he one of Arafat's very very close aides who had a position i Fatah? He's now in the "2a3yan". It means your identity shifts with the blowing wind. You can quote anyone, but Gallab...?

I dont like to attack a person in their absence, but I felt obliged to remind you of his past this time. Apologies.

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: I agree that this is about welcoming the Palestinian leadership in Amman. As for the deportation, I think that we disagree, as Ibrahim Ghosheh has since returned to Jordan, after agreeing to play by Jordanian rules and not being a leader in a Palestinian organization.

Rami: I disagree that nationalism should necssarily mean rivalism, or anything like you suggest. There is no 3asabieh in Jordan towards Syrians or Lebanese, or even Palestinians. Jordanians from both sides of the river interact at a human level everyday. We are colleagues, friends and spouses. I do NOT view any Jordanian as "the other".

Having said that, I must say that a problem exists with Jordanians who have a problem identifying themselves as being Jordanian. This is a reality, and it has to be recognized, as it allows for external hands to mess with our national unity. Jordanian and Palestinian interests diverge, just as interets of siblings diverge. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as each side respects the interests and needs of the other (not "THE OTHER" :)).

As for Saleh Gallab, his history is well known. However, he currently says things that need to be said. I would have quoted anybody who made this statement, because I believe the statement is accurate.

Omar: I liked your blog. Keep up the good work. As for your point about Gallab, I believe that it is innacurate. I hate attacking peoples' character when we disagree with their views. We should learn more about the finer points of political debate.

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, what you call "Jordanian rules" I call an "unconstitutional deal" that the government at the time gave the Hamas members. Deporting them and banning them from entering the country until they resign from Hamas was a violation of their rights as Jordanian citizens and a violation of the Jordanian constitution. Everybody who's read the constitution knows that.

Also, I don't think it's realistic from you to say that Jordanian and Palestinian interests diverge. As if Jordan's population isn't half Palestinian, and the area of the two nations combined isn't smaller than most other countries in the region. We share language, religion, culture, geography, history, politics, food and most importantly family ties.

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Rami said...


"There is no 3asabieh in Jordan towards Syrians or Lebanese..."

I beg to differ. Remember the visa problems with Lebanon and the reciprocated slamming of visa requirements?

As for the Syrian side, this rivalry is all too close in history to be forgotten. The 80s, 70s were hot periods for rivalry - remember the Wihdeh Dam? Can you tell me how far has it gone in 30 years? It is only that today, Syria is busy with a heavy-weight and is too busy to rival Jordan.

"Jordanian and Palestinian interests diverge"

I assume they diverge to remain close enough to allow for coperation. Interests can't diverge enough for us to call in a common enemy to mediate or benefit from the situation, can they? I agree with hamzeh's point that, to say the least, the majority of Jordan is Palestinians. How far can you diverge now? This is an excuse that doesn't stand the evidence. If you really wanted to know where Jordanian interests are, why dont you run a referundum on major issues? In whose name can you speak without such a mass referendum?

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Well, I can speak for myself. There is nothing in the constitution that allows Jordanians to head foreign organizations on Jordanian territory. The so-called deportation was better than the alternatives; i.e. allowing violation of Jordanian sovereignty or putting people in jail.

How can the majority of Jordanians be Palestinians? They are either Jordanians or Palestinians. Since most Jordanians of Palestinian origin hold Jordanian national numbers, they are Jordanians. Period. If they feel that their identity is not Jordanian, then the problem irises from there. I don't see what can be done about that. If you live in Jordan and want to practice politics, your loyalty needs to be to Jordan. If your loyalty lies elsewhere, then at least declare that you have no business in interfering in the politics of the country.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Rami said...


"There is nothing in the constitution that allows Jordanians to head foreign organizations on Jordanian territory"

Check with a lawyer on this, but the philosophy of the Law is that it declares what is prohibited, rather than what is permissible. If the Constitution doesn't explicitly state it, its permissible, no?

With regards to:

"They are either Jordanians or Palestinians"

What's a dual nationality meant to mean for you? You surely can't be more of a super-power than the USA which permits dual nationality, or Great Britain. Indeed many Britons are nationals of the USA and serve *Governments* on both sides of the Atlantic, not only the private sector. Martin Indyk is an Australian, became a naturalized US citizen in 1993 and became America's ambassador to Israel.

Is Jordan more of a super-power than the USA? Or a country made of a different set of laws?

There is more to life than chasing Palestinian politicians out of the country.

Any of asking Mish'al out of Jordan, there is no law on earth that can kick a citizen out of his country. You can imprison him for sure, but you cannot push him outside of the border. A citizen is a more established fact in a nation-state than a government, because the mode of governance can change, but a citizen is forever the building block in the country.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Come on Rami. Misha'al was given a choice between giving up his post, going to jail or leaving. Not everybody breaking the law enjoys such a group of choices.

When you say "the philosophy of the Law is that it declares what is prohibited, rather than what is permissible. If the Constitution doesn't explicitly state it, its permissible, no?" it becomes clear that you haven't read the constitution, which states the rights of citizens. The constitution is not a criminal code.

I don't see your point about dual citizenship. Are we in a more stable and secure position than the US? If the US feels secure about the status of Martin Endyk,then that is their soveirgn decision. Isn't Jordan entitled to make it's own? Yes, Jordan is made of a set of different laws.

This is a bizzare statement "There is more to life than chasing Palestinian politicians out of the country". I don't think anybody has it as a sole single item on his resume'.


At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, two things I want to say:

- About deportation, no matter how hard you try to spin it, it was a violation of Jordanian constitution. You might be right, that there's no clause in the constitution that allows Jordanians to head or participate in foreign political organizations, but is there one that strictly says that they can't and that if they do they have to be deported? I don't think so. This is why our government in 1999 violated the Jordanian constitution, and you're saying that it was the best thing to do? This is ironic given that just recently our current government was promoting awareness with the "know your rights as a citizen" campaign. What good are these rights and what good is this constitution if we still have people who think it's best to violate them sometimes?

- About loyalties. First, there's no Palestinian state yet, and nobody knows what might happen if there is ever a sovereign Palestinian state and all Palestinians are allowed to hold its citizenship; we might see a lot of Jordanians choosing to give up their Jordanian citizenship and go for the Palestinian one, we don't know. Second, that doesn't really matter, because even if Jordanian families from Palestinian origins remain Jordanian citizens, they will still have very close family ties to Palestine. That's why Jordanians and Palestinians are locked together forever and one's interests are automatically the interests of the other.

Also, you talk about keeping loyalties inside Jordan as if our small country is a big nation that has its own identity, like what one would say about the French or the British or the Turks. What are we, the Jordanians? Since when? Since eighty something years ago? Why? Because someone decided to draw a few lines and call this land Jordan? And how much really are we Jordanian? Half of us aren't even from this land, you have Palestinians, you have Circassians, you have Syrians and Iraqi's. We don't have our own language. Hick even the Arabic songs we listen to are mostly not from Jordan.

Emphasizing tiny nationalist tendencies is not the way to carry us forward because our third world country will never survive on its own. Our interests in Jordan are best served if we can "relearn" to work with our brothers whom we've been seperated from by the colonialist powers that drew these lines between us. When we realize that we're not only Jordanians, that Jordan is the product of colonialist powers and that preserving our right to self government of Jordan doesn't really contradict with maintaining our interests with others outside the boundaries of our country.

I love my country, but I refuse to be limited by its geographical boundaries, just as I refuse to limit my progress as a living organism in this world by the boundaries of my body; I use others around me and I allow them to use me so that together we're all one big society. And just as I'm willing to sacrifice my body for others sometimes, there's nothing that says a country like Jordan can't make sacrifices for another like Palestine. Otherwise, why do we still honor the memory of those who died in the Karama battle?

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Rami said...


You sound reasonable, was this:

"a choice between giving up his post, going to jail or leaving"

a court verdict? A citizen has the right to a Cout of Justice, no matter how convoluted or Kangaroo the court it. This right is in the Constitution, no?

"There is nothing in the constitution that allows Jordanians to head foreign organizations"

It's a precarious situation when the King himself ruled over that same foreign territory at a point in time. Would this organization still be foreign?

"Are we in a more stable and secure position than the US?"

Is this arguement supposed to justify an action b ythe executive branch by way of emergency laws? Aren't those long gone?

"Yes, Jordan is made of a set of different laws"

What would those be? Wasn't the Constitution and Civil Code modelled after the French/Swiss? I never heard that Jordan ever created special laws for itself.

"I don't think anybody has it as a sole single item on his resume"

This arguement is a fallacy. You don't answer the point, only mock it.

We can disagree, but let's at least agree to base it on pure rationale.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: We disagree about the deportation issue. As for loyalties, I can sympathize that all Jordanians feel close to the Palestinian cause, to Arab causes and to Islamic causes. This is not something we should relearn. We have paid a lot for these causes, and it was our obligation and honor to do so. If the Arabs take a serious decision to unite, create a real open market or a real mutual defence pact, I am sure that Jordan will be the first in line. I am not against that, but we should recognize that this will not happen any time soon.

So, instead of hypothesizing about romantic unrealistic scenarios, we should deal with reality. This reality was that Hamas was working to undermine Jordan prior to 1999, and is still reluctant to recognize Jordan's sovereignty. Now, this might be cast in a romantic vision involving unity and democracy. But unity with whom? Under what conditions and what form of government? If this is their goal, they should say it, and if we agree, why not. This will not happen through subversion or a coup.

Also, shouldn't Hamas be worried about liberating Palestine, rather than trying to gain influence in Jordan? I doubt that this is why Palestinian voters elected them.

I disagree with your premise that Jordanians of Palestinian origin are united in their support of Hamas activity in Jordan. It is not accurate or helpful to portray the situation in this light.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Rami: Sorry. Actually, I didn't understand that point, so I responded poorly to it.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This is an interesting conversation. Regarding dual citizenship, I think Palestinians or Jordanians should have the choice to have them both, as it is the case when it comes to other nationalities; Amerian, Europian etc... However, I do not think that any one who have a dual citizenship should have the right to in a leadership politial position. If he wants to be part of such position of either country then he should drop the other nationality.

Look at Al-Zarqawi for example, every time they neentioned his name in the media, they folow it with "Jordanian bron terrorist". Believe it or not, Indiviuals can affect the sovernity and the reputation of the whole nation, that is why i do not thank that Hamas leaders should have the right to have two citizenships!

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wo wo wo hold on Khalaf, you're talking about Hamas's influence in Jordan as if it's an uncontested reality when all it is is a theory that some people like to promote because of their personal dislike of Hamas. You keep saying Hamas saught to undermine Jordan's security and sovereignty prior to 1999, how? So far all these allegations are unfounded.

So I don't see the reality that you're talking about, and I think it's a reality that only exists in the minds of a few people. Hamas was confronted by the Jordanian government strictly and only because it [our government] buckled under US pressure. Talk about undermining Jordan's sovereignty in 1999. Who undermined our sovereignty? Hamas with the unfounded allegations that people are willing to throw at it, or the US that succeeded in violating Jordanian citizens' rights that are guaranteed by the Jordanian constitution, on Jordanian land, and by way of the Jordanian government itself? If you're really worried about foreign entities having influence in Jordan, do you really wanna speculate about Hamas now?

Also, I never built any argument on the premise that Palestinians in Jordan support Hamas. I only said that Palestinians in Jordan (who make up almost half the population if not more) share a lot of interests with Palestinians who live in Palestine.

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

في البداية لابد من شكر خلف على ما يوفره من جردة صحفية للوضع في الأردن، برغم اختلافي معه في وجهة النظر حول الخلاصات

احب أن الفت اهتمام المناقشين أن موقفي حول موضوع الغاء زيارة حماس للأردن موجود على مدونتي
آملا أن نتابع النقاش قريبا

At 1:56 AM, Blogger Ziad said...

To put it briefly, I think the Hamas issue could have (should have!) been handled with a little more care and "finesse", both in 1999 and now.

Why haven't we learned yet that the "Jordanian vs. Palestinian" topic holds a lot of sensitivities for everyone, and should be dealt with with some reverence? Do we just enjoy aggravating each other?!

Oh how I despise it when this "argument" starts and, inevitably, escalates into personal accusations and attacks. This has plagued every Jordanian internet discussion forum ever since they started, and is the reason I stopped participating in one of them several years ago.

At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saleh gallab he is loyal to who pay more and thats his history, one day i will post about him.

At 6:13 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: Do you have foundations for your allegations that it was the US behind the Hamas crisis in 1999? Please enlighten us.

As for Hamas meddling in Jordanian politics, this is well known and well documented. It is not an unfounded allegation, as you claim.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Ziad: I disagree. We are fully capable of having a civilized discussion, and remain friendly. Of course, we will disagree, but that is the fun of it.

At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About outside pressures on Jordan, it was all over the news, and it doesn't take a genious to figure out. It wasn't only the US that asked Jordan to put an end to Hamas's presence in the country, the PA, Israel and even Europe were on the list.


What about the fact that the crackdown on Hamas leaders happened just days before Albright's visit to Jordan? And how about the fact that after the incident and the visit an additional $50 million in US aid were pledged to Jordan?

"But several things happened in August, which pushed the Jordanian government into taking this drastic step. The American administration - to which Jordan appealed for aid to overcome its delay in paying its external debts - made it clear to King Abdallah when he visited Washington, that it would find it difficult to transmit such a request to Congress, as long as Hamas enjoyed freedom of action in Jordan. This American position rested on the claims of members of Congress who had been briefed by the Jewish lobby."


At 9:47 AM, Blogger Rami said...


To add to hamzeh's point on:

"Talk about undermining Jordan's sovereignty in 1999"

Doesn't the recent legislation in the Parliament excluding US personnel from being tried by the International Court of Justice if they comit war crimes on Jordanian soil a breach of soverneigty and the rights of the citizens if they are breached? In other words, an American can slaughter 100 Jordanians alive and no one can lay a hand on him, not even our government.

To give you a historical parallel, in 1963 the Shah of Iran forced the parliament of Iran to pass such a resolution. Demonstrations broke out and 100 people died in them, the Savak was throwing people off the rooftops and people were still demonstarting. Khomeini was sent into exile for 15 years for objecting to this treaty.

Are we speaking of a sovereign people here, or ones that pretend to be in words only?

Finally, wasn't Badran, the ex-Prime Minister nominated by Condolezza Rice herself? Where is the independence in decision-making?

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hi Hamzeh: I am amused that the second link you site (the Israeli site) contains the following statement "[...]Jordanians, who had been monitoring the deepening relationship between the extremist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordanian Hamas, for some time. Hamas personnel had taken to appearing at the Muslim Brotherhood's offices, using their services and trying to formulate what they called a "tangible opposition to the Jordanian policy of supporting the Oslo Agreements.""

Previously, you stated the following "[...]talking about Hamas's influence in Jordan as if it's an uncontested reality when all it is is a theory that some people like to promote because of their personal dislike of Hamas. You keep saying Hamas saught to undermine Jordan's security and sovereignty prior to 1999, how? So far all these allegations are unfounded."

So, do you want to cite only the parts you like from this article?

I concede that Jordan has to face fiscal realities when it makes political decisions. Americal pressure might have been a factor, but it is clear that it was a small factor, with local political realities being a larger one.

Hamas will soon learn the same type of lesson regarding fiscal realities.

Rami: We were only talking about the Hamas situation. Of course US financial pressure is used to change Jordanian policies. I have written about that a couple of times in the past myself.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalaf, you're right, I shouldn't have contested Hamas's influence, but I still do contest the claim that they saught to undermine Jordan's security and sovereignty.

As far as I can tell, none of what the article describes was outside the boundaries of the Jordanian law, and if some claim it was, then there's no proof of it because Hamas was never even charged with it let alone found guilty.

Bottom line is, instead of speculating about what Hamas might be able to do in Jordan, we should discuss what the US and other countries have already managed to do, and that is pressuring our own government to violate some of our citizens' rights that are guaranteed by the constitution.

At 5:47 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hamzeh: Lets drop it. I think we understand each other.


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