The failure of this approach has led some to suggest other avenues of breaking up the logjam -- the result of U.S. President Barack Obama's lack of political
will and the failure of the rest of the world to pick up the pieces without U.S. involvement. It is in this political limbo that the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict is finding itself toying with an old-new formula: A role for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In a meeting with members of the Ebal charity in October, which is made up of Jordanians of Palestinian (Nablus) origin and hosted by Jordan's speaker of
the upper house, Taher al Masri, Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal opened up the issue. In the speech, recorded and posted on the jordandays.tv website, the prince stressed that the West Bank is part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which
includes "both banks of the [Jordan] River." He added that he "did not personally oppose the two-state solution," but that this solution is irrelevant at
the current stage.
The October 9 talk received little attention until a former PLO leader repeated the idea, albeit in a different tone. Farouk al Qadoumi, one of the
founders of the PLO's Fatah movement, gave an interview to the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi, in which he suggested the return of the West Bank to Jordan
as part of a federation or a confederation. Qadoumi, who opposed the Oslo Accords and has refused to step foot in the Palestinian Authority areas, has little
clout in the PLO, and at one time accused Abbas of being behind the poisoning of the late Yasser Arafat. Qadoumi's statement was quickly opposed by the
secretary of the PLO, Yaser Abed Rabo, who called it "naïve."
But earlier this month, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Abbas informed several PLO leaders "to be prepared for a new confederation project with Jordan and
other parties in the international community," and that his office has already issued reports that evaluate "the best strategies to lead possible
negotiations with Jordan" toward "reviving the confederation." He has reportedly asked PLO officials to prepare themselves to pursue this strategy. This
report, if confirmed by official sources, could be a watershed moment for the Palestinian national movement, and the highest profile endorsement of this
Abbas's willingness to explore a Jordanian confederation comes on the heels of the United Nation's recent declaration of Palestine as an observer state by
a 138-9 vote. This clear victory for Abbas gives him the political capital to explore such a potentially controversial move -- and also the international
recognition of sovereignty that would allow Palestinians to enter into a confederation with Jordan as equal partners.
The idea of Jordan having a greater role in Palestine is attractive for various parties. With the Israelis claiming that the Palestinians might repeat the
Gaza rocket problem if they withdraw from the West Bank, the idea of a Jordanian security role in the West Bank can defuse such Israeli concerns. A role
for Jordan in Palestine would be publicly acceptable in Israel, where the Hashemite enjoy consistent respect among everyday Israelis. Americans would also
find such an idea easier to deal with if talks ever return. And even among Palestinians who are unhappy with the PLO and its failures to end the Israeli
occupation, any process that can end Israeli presence in Palestinian territories is welcome -- even if that is replaced, temporarily, by an Arab party,
whether it is Jordan or any other member of the Arab league.