Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Will Jordan act?

A recent vote in the Jordanian parliament to expel the Israeli ambassador from the country seems to have been just so much play-acting, writes Ali Younes in Amman

Al-Ahram Weekly

A large majority of Jordanian members of parliament voted last week to pass a resolution to force the government to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman over Israeli settler attacks and attempts to occupy the Islamic holy site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The resolution was sponsored by MP Yehia Al-Suad and was passed by a majority of 89 votes, enough to topple the government of Prime Minister Abdallah Nsour from power if he declines to act on it. Although the resolution is not binding, the MPs can force a vote of no confidence against Nsour’s government and bring it down if the government does not expel the ambassador.

On the surface, this sounds like very serious politics and democracy in action by the MPs. But according to many Jordanian analysts and experts I talked to in Amman, the whole thing was nothing but a show for the cameras. The Israeli ambassador will not be expelled from Amman and the government will not be brought down, they said.

During a visit to the Jordanian parliament this past week and while speaking to several MPs, including speaker Saad Al-Sorour, I found no indication that there was any serious attempt, or even hint, that the Israeli ambassador would be expelled from Jordan. MP Mohamed Al-Hejuj said that although 89 MPs had signed off on the resolution, there were no real expectations, and there was even scepticism, among MPs about the seriousness of the resolution.

Why, then, did 89 members of parliament decide to create a false perception of solidarity with the Palestinians and with the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem while fully knowing that their actions would have no real value or even be taken as an honest effort?

MP Mohamed Thahrawi said that the whole issue was a charade that had got out of hand. He said that none of the sponsors of the resolution thought that their resolution was serious enough to threaten the government. But since it had garnered 89 votes, it had created a constitutional quagmire in which the government would have to act and therefore either risk a diplomatic battle with Israel and the US or losing a vote of confidence.

As a result, several MPs who had sponsored the resolution held a private session and decided to essentially kill it by allowing each sponsor to withdraw his vote, including the main sponsor, Al-Suad. Although the resolution still stands at this point, it is by all accounts dead on arrival.

Political columnist Osama Rantisis, who writes for the daily Al-Arab Al-Youm, thinks that the whole thing was a ploy by the Jordanian intelligence department (mukhabarat), which activated its allies in parliament to create the whole show. The Jordanian intelligence department is accused of running the parliament in accordance with its own agenda through members it helps “elect” by rigging the parliamentary elections.

Abdel-Rahman Qatarneh, a former candidate for parliament in 1993, said that he had been asked to meet with the former head of the intelligence department, at that time Mustafa Qaisi, in order officially to declare him the winner of the seat he was running for three days before the elections took place. If he had refused, he said, others would have been declared the winners in his place.

The reason, Qatarneh explained, was for him to be the mukhabarat’s man inside parliament. Qatarneh refused, and he lost the elections to the same two people that the mukhabarat had told him would win it.

Mohamed Al-Hadid, a well-known anti-regime activist in Jordan, has stated that “the current parliament is full of the mukhabarat’s men, who function by remote control from its headquarters in Amman.”


The writer is a political analyst based in Washington DC.

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