Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday pledged continued support for the Palestinian cause despite the lack of prospects for a political solution, as hardline Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to form a government in Israel.
Speaking to Parliament at the opening of a new legislative year, King Abdullah said Jordan's “key role” was tied to its support for the Palestinians, who he said must not be excluded from any regional economic plans.
“The absence of a horizon for a political solution must not prevent us from supporting our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” the king said.
He said Jordan, a country of 10 million with a stagnant economy for more than a decade but with long borders with Israel, plays a “pivotal regional role” as an interlocutor and a defender of Palestinian rights.
“This key role that Jordan plays also remains focused on defending the Palestinian cause, which we have always supported and continue to support,” the king said.
“It is our highest priority, and it can only be resolved by reaching a just and comprehensive solution that begins with ending the Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”
Referring to economic proposals suggested since the normalisation of ties between Israel and several Arab states since 2019, the king said Jordan would work to ensure that Palestinians became “key partners in regional projects”.
“We will not accept their marginalisation, reaffirming, at the same time, that economic empowerment cannot replace a political solution,” he said.
Israel and Jordan signed the Wadi Araba peace treaty in 1994, when Yitzhak Rabin of the Labour Party was prime minister of Israel.
Jordanian officials have not commented on the election win this month by Mr Netanyahu and his allies, who won 64 seats in Israel's 120-member Knesset.
Jordan views Mr Netanyahu as having subverted the principle of a two-state solution by expanding settlements and creating other “facts on the ground” that could make it impossible for the Palestinians to establish and manage their own country.
This, Jordanian officials fear, could raise pressure on the Palestinians to the point of prompting another wave of refugees to Jordan. A large proportion of Jordan's population comprises Palestinians who fled Palestine between 1948 and 1967 and their descendants.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday officially invited Mr Netanyahu to form Israel's next government. If he succeeds, the veteran politician will serve his sixth term as prime minister.
The king said Jordan should internally focus on creating political parties to develop "broader popular participation in policy and decision-making".
All significant powers in Jordan lie with the king, who inherited power upon the death of his father, King Hussein, in 1999.
In the past few years, the king has indicated that he wants parties to play a greater role in domestic politics, which is mainly influenced by tribal dynamics.
The tribes were united by offering them a stake in the system when Jordan was founded as the British Protectorate of Transjordan in 1921. Members of the tribes currently comprise most of the security services, Parliament and bureaucracy.
But the king suggested that modernising the economy was the most urgent goal, with stagnation stretching for more than a decade and unemployment at a record high of 23 to 24 per cent.
He said the government "should be measured" by its ability to carry out an economic reform plan that the authorities announced in June. The plan aims to draw $5bn year of investment over the next 10 years and improve the infrastructure, including the introduction of 5G networks.
Economic reform would "revitalise all productive sectors and enable economic recovery", he said.