US embassy cable - 02AMMAN2334

EAST BANK-WEST BANK DIVIDE GROWS AS INTIFADA INTENSIFIES

Identifier: 02AMMAN2334
Wikileaks: View 02AMMAN2334 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 2002-05-12 14:10:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL KPAL PGOV IS JO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 002334 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2012 
TAGS: PREL, KPAL, PGOV, IS, JO 
SUBJECT: EAST BANK-WEST BANK DIVIDE GROWS AS INTIFADA 
INTENSIFIES 
 
REF: A. AMMAN 1805 B. AMMAN 2070 
 
Classified By: CDA GREGORY L. BERRY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D) 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) Over the past few weeks the Israeli offensive in the 
West Bank has 
highlighted a trend we have seen growing as the Intifada has 
intensified--the 
cleavage between Palestinian Jordanians (West Bankers) and 
Transjordanians 
(East Bankers).  Residual mistrust left over from the 1970 
PLO attempt to 
overthrow the Hashemites has resurfaced, and there is growing 
fear that Israel 
could try to force Palestinians from the West Bank into 
Jordan.  While most 
East Bankers openly support the Palestinian cause, many have 
privately 
expressed resentment that Palestinian Jordanians are once 
again a destabilizing 
force in the country.  End Summary. 
 
-------------------------------- 
EAST BANKERS: LINGERING DISTRUST 
-------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) The protests in recent weeks against the Israeli 
incursions have 
sharpened the division between East and West Bankers.  This 
division is 
particularly acute in Amman, where Badia police from 
traditional East Bank 
areas were brought in to deter pro-Palestinian protests. 
While many 
Palestinian contacts have blanched at the government's use of 
the Badia police, 
many East Bank contacts have conveyed their resentment that 
Palestinians are 
once again posing a challenge to the authority of the 
government. 
 
3. (C) While few Palestinians refer back to the 1970 
Palestinian attempt to 
usurp King Hussein, also known as Black September, East 
Bankers more frequently 
bring up the topic to explain their lingering distrust of 
Palestinian Jordanian 
intentions here.   While most East Bank contacts acknowledge 
that the 
circumstances that allowed the Palestinians to challenge King 
Hussein in 1970 
no longer exist, distrust and resentment remain. 
 
4. (C) Several East Bank contacts told Poloff that tensions 
between Palestinian 
Jordanians and East Bankers increased substantially during 
the demonstrations 
over the past few weeks.  While many were sympathetic to the 
protesters' cause, 
East Bankers were unsure how far the mostly Palestinian 
demonstrators would 
push the government.  One East Bank government official was 
enraged after 
hearing reports (unconfirmed) that refugee camp residents 
were burning pictures 
of King Abdullah and Queen Rania.  Another East Bank Foreign 
Ministry contact 
pointed to the experience of the Palestinians in Kuwait, "the 
Kuwaitis took 
them in and gave them good jobs, they live there for 30 
years, then Saddam 
invades and the Palestinians turn on their hosts."  This 
tension has also crept 
into the business sector.  The Chairman of the Irbid Chamber 
of Industry spoke 
with frustration recently about attempts by the Amman Chamber 
of Industry to 
politicize the work of the Chambers in Amman, Irbid, and 
Zarqa.  In contrast to 
the pro-business (and East Banker-controlled) Chambers in 
Irbid and Zarqa, 
which count a number of QIZ producers among their membership, 
he noted the 
Amman Chamber is dominated by Palestinian Jordanians, has 
close ties to 
Islamist professional associations, and has been pushing hard 
to get the 
Chambers to call for a boycott of U.S. goods and of 
businesses that deal with 
Israel. 
 
5. (C) Another underlying East Bank fear is that continued 
Israeli incursions 
in the West Bank will push large numbers of Palestinians into 
Jordan.  It is 
widely believed here that Jordan can not absorb another wave 
of Palestinians. 
East Bank reluctance to sever ties with Israel in part stems 
from their mutual 
peace treaty, which they see as a guarantee that Israel will 
not conduct 
large-scale expulsions of Palestinians to Jordan.  (see Ref 
B)  King Abdullah 
and Prime Minister Abul Ragheb have both issued public 
statements in the last 
month confirming that Jordan would close its bridges if faced 
with a 
large-scale refugee flow.  Indeed, during Israeli incursions, 
Jordan on 
occasion has closed the land border or has limited the hours 
for crossing to 
stem the traffic flow from the West Bank. 
 
6. (C) While some East Bank contacts see the demonstrations 
creating 
instability, some East Bank contacts also place some blame on 
the government 
for its heavy-handed use of the police in the last few weeks. 
 Nasir al-Lawzi, 
a well-connected East Banker, told Poloff that he was 
particularly concerned 
when the opposition was scheduling a large protest in spite 
of a government 
ban. (see Ref A)  "The situation was very explosive, 
particularly if the police 
overreacted--what would happen if the police killed a 
protester?" 
 
------------------------------ 
WEST BANKERS: FEELING INSECURE 
------------------------------ 
 
7. (C) In return, many Palestinians here have complained 
about heavy-handed 
government tactics and say these tactics betray the 
government's 
anti-Palestinian bias.  Poloff recently has heard some 
anecdotal stories about 
police harassment of Palestinian Jordanians.  Most stories 
revolve around 
name-calling and occasional unprovoked beatings.  Former 
Royal Court advisor 
Adnan Abu Odeh said that Jordan is the only country that 
mentioned "national 
unity" when calling for calm.  Abu Odeh questioned why 
demonstrations against 
the Israeli offensive would threaten national unity, "it 
implies that 
Palestinians are anti-Israeli and Transjordanians are 
pro-Israeli."  Abu Odeh 
believes (we think mistakenly) that the GOJ inserted 
undercover security 
officers into the demonstrations to provoke the crowd, 
thereby justifying its 
harsh response. 
 
8. (C) Throughout the recent round of demonstrations, lasting 
roughly five 
weeks, we have heard several anecdotal stories of 
Palestinians in the Rabia 
area worried about the presence of the Badia police, one 
family even leaving 
their home for the weekends when the Badia were brought in to 
patrol.  These 
Palestinians feared that Badia police would not recognize the 
difference 
between Palestinian protesters and Palestinian residents. 
Though still very 
angry at the ongoing situation, Palestinians appear reluctant 
to protest too 
loudly since the government established the "red-line" for 
demonstrations that 
were planned on April 12 (see ref). 
 
9. (C) Abu Odeh attributes some of the Palestinian reluctance 
to test the 
government's "red-line" to the Palestinian feeling that they 
are merely 
residents of Jordan, not citizens.  As such, they believe 
their position in 
Jordan, economically and socially, is at the mercy of the 
government and 
security services.  Abu Odeh said he was not surprised that 
the opposition 
backed down and canceled demonstrations on April 12 when the 
government stepped 
up security.  He said the Muslim Brotherhood rank and file is 
made up of 
Palestinians, but the leadership is made up of 
Transjordanians.  The 
Transjordanian leadership, according to Abu Odeh, want to 
maintain some 
friendliness with the government, otherwise it would risk 
their future ability 
to secure high-ranking ministerial positions. 
 
10. (C) While some see the division between East Bank and 
West Bank clearly, a 
few contacts stress that Jordanians are united.  One East 
Bank contact said 
that relations between East Bankers and West Bankers are 
getting so intertwined 
that it is difficult to completely separate the two.  "When a 
Palestinian in 
the West Bank is killed, condolences are received in the East 
Bank."  Abdul 
Karim Abul Haija, Director General of Jordan's Department of 
Palestinian 
Affairs, told Refcoord that the situation was so bad during 
the demonstrations 
because "our own people are firing on us."  However, it seems 
clear that 
Transjordanians with a stronger sense of their East Bank 
identity do not see 
that as the case. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
11. (C) The East Bank-West Bank division is a complex 
nationality issue in 
Jordan.  Many Palestinian Jordanians emphasize that they 
consider themselves 
solely "Jordanians" since they were born in the West Bank 
when it was under 
Jordanian control.  However, East Bankers still tend to 
question the loyalty of 
Palestinian Jordanians and to which state they are most loyal 
to--Jordan or the 
future Palestine.  Almost all Jordanians--East Bank and West 
Bank--support the 
Palestinian cause, but the rise in Palestinian activism 
during the last several 
weeks--and the fact that it is mostly East Bankers who have 
responsibility for 
maintaining order--has exacerbated this division in Jordanian 
society. 
 
 
BERRY 

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