TEL AVIV – Israel will not support a tripartite confederation with the Palestinians and Jordan, senior Israeli diplomatic officials said Sunday.
During a meeting with left-wing Knesset members and representatives from the dovish NGO Peace Now, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he supported the notion of a three-way confederation which, he added, had been re-floated by President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner. The idea for a confederation was first put forward by Jordan’s King Hussein in the 1970s but was rejected by the PLO, the Arab states and Israel.
According to Israeli officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the only agreement he is willing to reach must be negotiated directly between Israel and the Palestinians. Any future Palestinian entity will be demilitarized and Israel will retain full security control west of the Jordan River. That position “has not changed,” an official added.
On Sunday, Jordan also rejected the proposal. Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said that joining the Hashemite kingdom with the West Bank was not an option and her government firmly stood by the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.
In comments reported by the Khaberni news agency, Ghneimat said that “discussing the idea of a confederation with the regions of the West Bank is not possible.”
A statement by Peace Now quoted Abbas as saying that he was in favor of such a proposal as long as Israel joined it.
“I said [to Kushner and Greenblatt]: Yes, I want a three-way confederation with Jordan and Israel. I asked them if the Israelis would agree to such a proposal,” Abbas said.
“I told [Trump]: yes. I want a triangular confederation with Jordan and Israel. I asked if the Israelis would agree to that proposal,” he added.
The PA president also told attendees of the meeting that Trump had personally assured him of his support for a two-state solution.
According to Peace Now, Abbas expressed his support for a demilitarized Palestinian state with NATO securing the agreement.
At the meeting, Abbas said of Israel’s domestic security service that he “consistently meets with the heads of the Shin Bet — we agree on 99 percent of the issues.”
The U.S. did not comment on the specific proposal, but Greenblatt issued a statement Sunday evening saying, ”Over the past 19 months we have probed all relevant parties about many ideas and possibilities.”
“The plan, when released, will reflect ideas that we think are realistic, fair and implementable that will enhance the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Greenblatt continued. “We will not discuss any specific ideas or private conversations that may or may not have been had with leaders in the region.”
At the meeting with Peace Now, Abbas reiterated his claim that the U.S. was hostile to the Palestinians.
Speaking of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the Trump administration, Abbas charged, “is closing the peace process. The U.S. wants to destroy UNRWA completely.”
The Jerusalem Post cited an October 2016 poll by the Nablus-based Al-Najah University, which found that 46% of Palestinians supported the creation of a confederation with Jordan on the basis of two independent states with strong institutional relations, while 41% rejected it. Excluding Gaza’s respondents saw an increase in support, with 52% of Palestinians in the West Bank in favor and 44% opposed.