May 22, 2020
Israeli soldiers gather at the crossing checkpoint on the Israeli-Jordanian border. (Photo: AFP/Menahem Kahana)
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is not within its legal rights to cancel the peace treaty with Israel, which can only be done if it declares war on Israel, according to Alan Baker, who helped draft the treaty as the legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry at the time. In a document published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Baker adds that annulment of the peace treaty would harm essential Jordanian interests and that the kingdom was, therefore, unlikely to follow through with such a step.
"A peace treaty, by its very nature, is not bound by any specific time limit, and is not given to cancellation or revocation, unless by declaration of war or act of aggression by one of the parties to the treaty, constituting a revocation of the very basis of the peace relationship, which includes mutual acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the other party (article 2)," Baker writes.
"It is highly unlikely that Jordan would want to take such a step, especially in light of the fact that a unilateral act by Israel of applying law or sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, even if not favored by Jordan, would not constitute an act of aggression against Jordan's sovereignty or territorial integrity and as such would not be grounds for revoking the treaty," the article continues.
Moreover, because Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria from 1948-1967, the treaty also includes a clause that makes it explicitly clear that it does not apply to these areas.
Baker writes: "Since the issue of the status of Judea and Samaria is, in article 3, specifically excluded from the border delimitation provisions of their respective territory, Jordan cannot claim that unilateral application of law or sovereignty by Israel in such territories constitutes a violation of the peace treaty or grounds for its revocation."
From the diplomatic perspective, Baker goes on to say that Jordan would have a lot to lose from revoking the accord.
"Some of the central components of the peace relationship represent interests that are vital to Jordan such as water allocations (article 6), economic relations (article 7), Jordan's special historic role in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem (article 9), freedom of navigation and access to ports (article 14), and civil aviation and rights of overflight, including Jordanian overflight of Israeli territory to reach points in Europe (article 15). To cancel or revoke such vital components would not serve the interests of Jordan and would undermine its very stability," says Baker, who is currently a senior research fellow at the JCPA.
"Should Jordan wish to solve a dispute with Israel regarding the application or interpretation of the peace treaty," Baker concludes, "article 29 establishes a dispute settlement mechanism of negotiation, conciliation, or arbitration."
Meanwhile, a source close to the Jordanian monarchy said that King Abdullah's recent warning of a "massive conflict" with Israel if it annexes parts of Judea and Samaria was primarily intended to appease public opinion at home. The majority of Jordan's population is of Palestinian origin.
According to the Jordanian source, who is familiar with the countries' diplomatic relations, the Jordanian army is happy with its long-time cooperation with the IDF along the countries' shared border and under no circumstances wants to see Palestinian security forces on the border instead. He added that the Jordanian government knows the Palestinians cannot be trusted and in fact welcomes measures that will strengthen Israel at the Palestinian Authority's expense.
The source, however, along with others in Jordan, cannot publicly voice their position due to fears of reprisals from extremists and the authorities.
"To say such things is to cross a red line that could end in prison," he said.
He added that as long as there are Israelis who are opposed to the sovereignty initiative, he and his associates "cannot be expected to be more Israeli than the Israelis themselves. If senior Israelis are coming out against the Trump vision and against your initiatives, and even meet with the king and tell him Israel is not acting wisely -- what do you expect the king to say?"