After 46 Years

THE Washington Declaration signed July 25 between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and King Hussein of Jordan is the beginning of normalized relations between the two countries for the first time in 46 years, and has been lauded as a step toward peace in the Middle East, and a significant turning point.

Israel and Jordan share the longest border in the Mideast. Unlike other Arab-Israeli state relations, Tel Aviv and Amman have had a significant informal relationship since King Hussein gave up the dream of a Hashemite Kingdom in the early 1970s, having lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. The July 26 declaration was made possible by the White House handshake between Mr. Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat last September. The new pact clearly works in the self-interest of both Israel and Jordan. Normalized relations for Jordan includes a carrot of some $900 million in debt forgiveness from the United States and more trade and economic activity. Israel's economic reach is extended; Jordan will lobby other Arab states to end the boycott of Israel. Israel's political aim of normalized relations with Syria and establishing a permanent hold on territory is furthered by increased pressure on President Assad to come to the table.

Hussein noted that ``not all of what is possible'' was achieved in Washington, and that issues of water, borders, and trade are still to be negotiated.

Yet, predictably, amid the good feelings generated at the White House, no one seemed to mention what the actual price of normalized relations is. That is - the dream of a Palestinian state. The Israeli agreement with Jordan further buries the idea of a two-state solution, where Palestinians embrace their right of sovereignty on the West Bank. While the Jordanian delegation raised issues of roads and tourism, the more-thorny issue of right of return for the 1948 refugees living in Jordan was not handled. Nor was the critical status of the occupied territories. Tellingly, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres strongly implied that the issue of Palestinian governance of East Jerusalem is off the table, since Hussein has agreed to administer the holy shrines there.

This agreement will work to keep the Palestinian people permanently subverted inside Israel. As we have said before, this state of affairs is made possible by an accord, signed amid euphoria by Mr. Arafat, offering Palestinians an ambiguous ``self-rule,'' not sovereignty, in the tiny areas of Gaza and Jericho. Hussein can say the PLO made its deal, freeing him to make his. This is history. Whether it is peace is not clear.

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