The wrong question in martyr Zuaiter’s case

تم نشره في Sun 16 March / Mar 2014. 08:55 PM - آخر تعديل في Sun 16 March / Mar 2014. 08:57 PM

By Fahed Khitan

The way the public debate on the Israeli crime against the martyr, Judge Raed Zuaiter, was manage turned the whole issue into an internal crisis for Jordan instead of being as it actually is; a crisis for Israel.

The rhetoric of the political elite and parliament since the moment of the crime revolved around one central question: What is the government required to do in response to the crime?

There were numerous interpretations, and then various demands were made: The expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Amman, the withdrawal of "Jordan" from Tel Aviv, and the release of the soldier Al Daqamseh from the Israeli prisons. It should be noted here that these demands are not new, they have been present on the agenda of the opposition parties and parliamentary blocs before Israel's crime against the martyr Zuaiter.

The various powers who are adopting these demands recognize that the government (or any government) will not respond to these demands, for considerations and calculations that are complex, yet known to these powers.

The question from the outset should be formulated in a different way, so that the answer is possible, feasible, and rises to the level of the heinous crime. In other words, it should be directed at Israel and not to the Jordanian government.

The question in this case: What is the price that Israel should pay for this crime?

Approaching this issue like this redirects the debate in a way that embarrasses Israel, and avoids Jordan internal division.

Israel is currently in a comfortable position; they got rid of the burden of crime and its cost, and is satisfied with watching the Jordanian government as it struggled in parliament to avoid withholding confidence. It follows the Jordanian street scorns those “irresponsible" officials, while none is talking is talking about the crime of the Israeli soldier.

The Lower House partisan powers, and perhaps also that the government, should have formulate a list of demands from Israel early on. By the way, investigating the incident has no significant meaning; it is a routine procedure done by all countries when similar incidents occur.

We should have taken advantage of a moment of embarrassment to extract concessions from the Netanyahu government along the lines of what happened at the time of the assassination attempt on Khaled Meshal in Amman 17 years ago. Ironically, Netanyahu was prime minister at that time and his government bowed to the demands of Jordan.

The Jordanian government did not expel the Israeli ambassador at the time, and did not release Al Daqamseh, who was imprisoned for several months then. However, they got in return a deal described by the opposition as fair; the release of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a number of Jordanian prisoners and Palestinians in Israeli jails. Before that, they forced Israel to secure a treatment that saved Mashaal 's life.

Why did we not think of such demands; there are still other Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails. Why not ask for their release as a key demand in response to the crime?

We have several cards in our hands that can be used; security coordination, for example, which is vital for Israel.

The parliament and the government could link the expulsion of the ambassador and other steps to Israel’s response to the list of demands Jordan would make. In the case of Khaled Meshaal, King Hussein resorted to the strict tactic of threatening to abolish the peace treaty to obtain his demands.

In the case of the martyr Zuaiter, what is required is to corner the Israeli government, and not the government of Jordan.


This article is an edited translation of the Arabic edition.