Jordan’s Prince Hasan on refugees, final status

FOFOGNET Digest – 6 Dec 1998 to 7 Dec 1998 (#1998-59)

Cairo al-Ahram in Arabic 3 Dec 98 p 6, via FBIS/WNC.

“Second part” of interview with Jordan’s Crown Prince Hasan Bin-Talal by

Ahmad Nafi’ at the Jordanian Royal Court in Amman on 28 November 1998.

[Nafi’] Jordan has played a key role in the Palestinian issue and the

peace process exemplified by King Husayn’s participation in the Wye River

talks. What role will Jordan play in reaching a settlement that will

achieve Palestinian aspirations in the final status talks?

[Hasan] At the outset, allow me to differentiate among three things–the

Jordanian role, Jordanian relations, and Jordanian interests. Regarding His

Majesty the King, he played a distinguished role as a statesman and a

person in the final stages of the talks. He gave his moral support for

these talks and played an objective and fair role in clearly calling for an

end to this two-year tragedy–the tragedy of the dialogue of the deaf,

indirect speech, and sparring. His Majesty the King played a

“get-together” role in a humane way seen by everybody on television or at

the Wye meeting. His Majesty King Husayn played a role as a leader and a

person who suffered for years, even in his health, and took a bold and

moral stance. This is Jordan’s role on the level of leader and person.

When we speak about Jordanian-Palestinian relations, I do not want to dwell

on the past. But allow me to say that there is a Jordanian legal

responsibility, especially as we approach the final status talks. The

legal aspect is important because we do not view 4 May [1999] as the end of

the final-status phase. The final-status phase is not a heap of issues.

The issues that were discussed in the interim phases do not constitute a

heap of issues that will be described on 4 May as final, especially when we

speak about eternal issues, such as Jerusalem, or historical issues, such

as the refugees, that have continued for 50 years.

In fact, we cannot envisage a solution for these issues, (and it is

improper to speak indirectly or indirectly about such a solution for the

refugees issue) within weeks or months. Jordan has a legal and historic

responsbility toward Jerusalem. There are also the rights of the citizens

who are Jordanian passport holders. God forbid, if we withdraw these

passports, we will be accused of emptying Jerusalem [of its Palestinian

citizens] and pushing them into taking a substitute nationality, which

unfortunately is Israeli nationality. This thing will not happen and will

in no way be accepted. There is a need for an initiative and a role at

this phase. Jordan’s role will complement the priorities put forward by

the Palestinian side.

Allow me to say that this issue is very complicated. It is difficult to

speak or speculate about it. Regarding Jerusalem, there are three

dimensions–the religious dimension, the social dimension, and the

sovereignty dimension. But let me say that there is a human and legal

relationship that requires attention and follow-up by Jordan. Regarding

the refugees issue, we like Egygt are a host country for the Palestinian

refugees. We will continue our care for them. But we will never backtrack

on the Palestinian refugees’ right to receive compensation or to return [to

their homes]. I would like to say that the cure for the requirements of

self-rule now and the Palestiian state tomorrow should not be represented

by the emigration of hundreds of thousands or millions of Palestinian

refugees to neighboring countries.

[Nafi’] Does Your Highness believe that Jordan will participate in the

final-status talks, especially since there are important issues that

concern it, such as the refugee and water issues?

[Hasan] I reiterate that Jordan, in view of its interests and its

relationship [with the Palestinian issue], will one day be obliged to say

what it believes. I would like to say that this deliberate disregard for J

ordan’s role (except the King’s role as a statesman) should not be a reason

for me to give the Israeli negotiator the chance to directly or indirectly

circumvent the Palestinian stance and its integrity. It is very clear that

territory is the core of the current conflict. We do not want Jordan to be

portrayed as wanting to settle the Palestinians anywhere else except inside

their legitimate political environment on Palestinian national soil.

But the question remains as to whose right it is to decide that this

situation would remain permanent and how? I want to remind you again that

the issue of the refugees was in the care of the United Nations Relief and

Works Agency [UNRWA] and that is why it lasted five decades. I also want

to remind everybody that Jordan’s interests will be expressed at the right

time and in a way that will not put the Palestinian negotiators in jeopardy

or in a weak position. We wish every success to the Palestinians during

the next stage, which could determine the final episodes of the whole

matter.

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