Skip to main content

Why confederation with Palestine is suddenly a hot issue in Amman

Discussion of a possible Palestinian-Jordanian confederation is testing the public mood in Jordan and the West Bank as President Mahmoud Abbas' popularity dips further.
Jordan's King Hussein (L) and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat review a bedouin guard of hounour on his arrival at the Royal Court in Amman October 2. Arafat arrived in Jordan on Thursday to visit the freed founder of the Islamic militant movement Hamas Sheikh Ahmed Yassein.


It’s been decades since the issue of confederation between the Kingdom of Jordan and Palestine was a matter of public debate. The idea gained traction in the mid-1980s and early 1990s as the rift between Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization narrowed and King Hussein and Yasser Arafat appeared to reconcile their differences. In principle, the two leaders agreed that once the state of Palestine is born, it will choose to join Jordan in a confederation between two sovereign states.

But the Oslo process, leading to direct secret negotiations between the PLO and Israel that resulted in the signing of a "declaration of principles" on the White House lawn in 1993, put the idea on hold. Jordan went on to sign its own peace deal with Israel in 1994, and the Palestinians were caught in endless and often fruitless negotiations with Israel under US auspices. That process took a nosedive following the second Palestinian intifada in 2000 and the death of Arafat in 2004.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.