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Jordanians denounce 'deal of the century' as Kushner meets King Abdullah II

Hundreds of political and public activists stage sit-in near the US embassy, urging Jordan not to attend Bahrain summit
A sit-in against the Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner's visit to Jordan, near the US embassy in Amman (Reuters)
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Amman, Jordan

Muslim brotherhood and other political and public activists have held protests near the US embassy in Amman against Wednesday's visit of Jared Kushner to the Jordanian capital, denouncing the Trump administration's "deal of the century".

Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, met with Jordan's King Abdullah II on the second leg of a mini-regional tour aimed at drumming up support for the economic part of the US's controversial Middle East peace plan.

While meeting with Kushner, King Abdullah II delivered a statement from his palace, during which he insisted on the "need to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace".

The king highlighted that negotiations should be based on a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

Kushner arrived in Jordan after meeting with leaders in Morocco.

He is scheduled to travel to Israel next, just weeks before an upcoming conference on the Palestinian economy in Bahrain

'No to the deal of the century'

Ahead of Kushner's arrival in Jordan, hundreds of protesters, including women and children, had gathered in Amman on Tuesday evening, despite a security cordon surrounding the US embassy which prevented them from sitting in an area in front of the building.

The protesters, who had to hold their sit-in nearly one kilometre from the embassy, denounced Kushner's visit with slogans such as "Return back to your country Kushner," "Jordan is not for buying and selling," and "No to the deal of the century."

The Bahrain summit, slated for 25-26 June, is set to see the first elements of Trump's plan released and discussed publicly, and is to concentrate on economic incentives offered to the Palestinians.

Amman has not confirmed whether it will be participating in the economic conference, though the cash-strapped kingdom is under intense pressure to do so.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has said it will boycott the event, while leading Palestinian businessmen also said on Tuesday they would not attend the conference.  

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have said they will be attending. 

'We will not allow the selling of Jordan'

In a speech to the protesters, Muslim Brotherhood general observer Abdul Hamid Thuneibat called upon the Jordanian government to state clearly that it would not be attending the Bahrain summit.

Thuneibat said: "No welcome for Kushner, return to your country, Jordan is not for sale, we will not allow the selling of Jordan and it won't be an alternative home for anybody.

"Gulf rulers, why are you running for normalisation with the Zionist enemy and falling into the arms of Israel... and Trump who wants to plunder your wealth?"

Hundreds of angry protesters, including men and women and children, gathered near the US embassy (MEE/Mohammad Ersan)
Hundreds of angry protesters, including men and women and children, gathered near the US embassy (MEE/Mohammad Ersan)

As Thuneibat spoke, protesters chanted: "No for the American embassy on Jordanian soil" and "No for an alternative home." 

In March, during a visit to the Zarqa governorate, King Abdullah laid down three 'nos' over the Palestinian issue, namely: no to giving up Jerusalem, no to dropping the right of return for Palestinians and no to the re-settlement of Palestinians in Jordan.

Addressing King Abdullah, Thuneibat said: "After the three 'nos' that we have heard, going to the Bahrain workshop, the workshop of selling Palestine, is a setback.

"We want a clear and frank position: no to the Bahrain workshop and to participating in it."

'Espionage centre'

During the protests, parliament member Saleh al-Armouti described the US embassy as an "espionage centre", criticised security forces for preventing participants from praying in the yard in front of the embassy and described the Bahrain workshop as a "conspiracy to sell out the Palestinian cause".

Armouti also attacked Bahrain for allowing Israelis to enter its territory, and criticised Gulf states that "fund the Zionist imperialist occupation project, known as the deal of the century".

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Speaking at the protests, Saad al-Alawaeen, an independent political activist, said: “We came to let all people know that we refuse to participate in the Bahrain workshop to sell out the Palestinians.

"We state that the government must refuse participation in the event and we don't welcome Kushner in Jordan. He is coming to put pressure on Jordan to go to Bahrain."

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Moath al-Khawaldeh said: "The sit-in in front of the US embassy is a clear message to the American administration that the Jordanian popular position rejects the 'deal of the century' and any political settlement aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause in favour of the Zionists at the expense of Jordan and trying to impose a new reality.

"Kushner's visit is part of the pressure imposed by the USA on Jordan and the region to carry out the 'deal of the century'. We refuse anything that leads to this deal, including the Bahrain workshop. 

"Kushner is in Amman to put pressure on Jordan to participate and we demand that the government position reflect the public position that rejects this deal."

'Dark tunnel'

Dima Tahboub, a member of the reform bloc of the Jordanian parliament, told MEE: "Jordan must refuse meeting Kushner.

"We must not be strong in the media and weak in our actions and deeds; our positions must go with our proclamations.

"The Bahrain workshop that Kushner brings with him is the first step in carrying out the 'deal of the century;' Our absence [in Bahrain] would show a solid position in refusing everything related to this deal."

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Because of the deliberate silence of the government, Jordan's official position on participating in the Bahrain workshop is not clear.

Some writers in daily newspapers and some members of political parties that are close to the government have called on Jordan to participate in the workshop, as they believe the kingdom should present its vision and position of rejecting the deal.

Jordanian government spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat did not reply to MEE's questions or calls regarding the government's intention to participate in the Bahrain workshop.

An official source only declared that "Kushner's visit comes within a tour of the whole area".

The protesters had to hold their sit-in nearly one kilometre from the US embassy (MEE/Mohammad Ersan)
The protesters had to hold their sit-in nearly one kilometre from the US embassy (MEE/Mohammad Ersan)

Jordan is officially committed to a "two-state solution" but finds itself in a difficult political situation, trying to settle the Palestinian issue without solving the problem of occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, including millions of them living within its borders.

Author and political analyst Lamis Andoni told MEE: "This visit aims to impose more pressure on Jordan, especially since there is no official position regarding Amman's participation in the [Bahrain] workshop.

"Jordanian participation in the workshop means that the king's three 'nos' that he had declared... while meeting people in Zarqa city have no value.

"There is no value in the official rejection of the 'deal of the century' [if Jordan attends the Bahrain summit]; In the case of participation, Jordan will enter a dark tunnel with no possibility of return."