King Hussein’s historic decision to sever Jordan’s legal and administrative ties with the West Bank in July 1988 was the latest move in his ongoing struggle with the PLO to shape the future status of the occupied territories. But Jordan’s geopolitical stake in the Palestine question, as well as the cultural and social links between the East and West Banks are too great for Hussein to disengage fully. Hussein will continue to position himself to ensure that Jordan’s interests are taken into account in any settlement.
In this Policy Paper, Asher Susser examines the effects—intended and otherwise—of Hussein’s decision to cede full authority over the West Bank to the PLO. Chronicling the long and often bitter rivalry between Arafat and Hussein, Susser traces this relationship from the days of open warfare in 1970 to guarded cooperation in the early 1980s. He argues that Jordanian disengagement was influenced, if not forced, by the intifadah but, disengagement was not an abandonment of the Jordanian role in the peace process.