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Israeli proposal: Make Jordan the official Palestinian homeland

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Last week, Jordan's foreign minister summoned the Israeli ambassador to deliver an official letter rejecting the idea and calling for the Israelis to stop the bill last week. In parliament, a group of at least 36 lawmakers are working to encourage their government to take strong action against Israel.

Right-wing idea, but some support from left

The proposal, put on the Knesset's agenda by Aryeh Eldad of the National Union party, holds that Palestinians in the West Bank should either become residents of Israel or be offered Jordanian citizenship, since – in the view of its authors – it is already the de facto Palestinian state. Already, more than half of Jordanians are of Palestinian origin, many the descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled when Israel declared independence in 1948.

The idea of Jordan as a Palestinian homeland has existed for years in Israel, but has never gained much support. This most recent bill, however, found a handful of supporters among Israel's liberal Labor Party.

Officials in Israel's foreign ministry tried to minimize the importance of the bill by pointing out that it was not supported by members of the ruling coalition. The National Union party holds only four seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

"This proposal doesn't represent the government," says Andy David, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "In a parliamentary system, there are many suggestions that turn into policy, and some of them don't. If it turns into policy, we'll discuss it then."

Main damage: peace process

Nawaf Tell, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, doubts that the bill will go much further. But he says it may damage the peace process that Jordan's King Abdullah II and other Arab leaders have been working to restart.

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