As the Palestinian Authority descends into chaos and the chances of Hamas winning the November parliamentary elections increase, other major undercurrents are occurring across the Jordan River. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is no longer a passive observer.

Hamas is more than the Palestinian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It is also a jihadist organization that sees Jordan as the primary seat of the Palestinian people. In June 1974, the PLO adopted what became known as the “Strategy of Stages.” The Plan called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in any part of the country that became available, if necessary through a negotiated process. Although the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat affirmed Israel’s existence at Oslo, in practice he never abandoned the goal of annihilating the Jewish State. To Arabic-speaking audiences, he justified Oslo as the “first stage” in the “Phases Plan.” Hamas, while sharing Arafat’s machiavellian approach, has been more explicit in expressing its intentions to overthrow the Hashemites.

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To understand King Abdullah’s concern requires an understanding of the “Strategy.” The Plan is built on a three-phase approach, starting with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (in Stage 1). Stage 2 involves the overthrow of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, whose population consists of a vast Palestinian majority. Once Jordan is under the control of Hamas, it will be unified with the existing Palestinian State in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This plan, with its emphasis on the need for Palestinian control of Jordan as a necessary first step, is actually incorporated into the emblem of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). That emblem draws an arrow through the Jordanian capital into the map of Israel, to demonstrate that the road to the liberation of Palestine is through Amman.

NOTE: Once both Jordan and the West Bank are under Palestinian rule, the Palestinian leadership intends to initiate the third stage of its strategy that will insist that Israel is a racist “apartheid” state which differentiates between its Jewish and Arab citizens by allowing Jews a Right of Return and flies a flag bearing the symbol of a Jewish star. The third stage of the Palestinian mainstream strategy of “the incremental dismemberment of the State of Israel” will end in the annulment of the Jewish character of the State of Israel as a result of international pressure.

This will be helped along by the natural demographics of the region, whereby population growth among the Palestinians is much larger than that of the Jewish population within the 1967 borders. In an interesting analysis of this rarely discussed strategy of the “moderate Palestinian leadership,” Israeli scholar Boaz Ganor projects that: “Palestinian population growth will take place through the opening of Israel’s gates to Palestinian immigration via the family unification program, in the framework of a peace agreement signed as part of the first stage of the Palestinian strategy. The result of this staged process will of course be the elimination of the State of Israel as a Jewish state without the use of violence.”

For King Abdullah, Hamas represents a greater threat to his Kingdom than the Palestinian Authority since Hamas has never hidden its true intentions. Thus, he is involved in secret discussions with both Bush and Sharon, the effect of which is to restructure his Kingdom along provincial lines – a form of governance used under the former Turkish mandate.

While the world is engaged in the unfolding saga of a doomed Abu Mazen, King Abdullah has quietly established a royal commission to break Jordan into four powerful provinces – one of which would include the West Bank (should Hamas assume control over the Palestinian Authority). He intends to transfer many of the current government’s important policy-making functions (especially foreign affairs, defense and security) to the royal family and distribute greater legislative/local powers amongst these new provinces – all with a view to filling the power vacuum that would be formed on the West Bank and Gaza by Abu Mazen’s downfall.

These provincial seats would retain broad powers in local matters including employment, education, and general services to the population, while West Bank representatives would be integrated into the less powerful central parliament in Amman.

Whatever becomes of this idea, a Jordanian-Palestinian province on the West Bank may well open up new alternatives for keeping Jewish settlement blocs under Israeli administration as part of a future accord with Jordan.