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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jordan not thrilled by the idea of an independent Palestinian state

AMMAN — Jordan has quietly let the Bush White House know it is concerned over the prospect of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank.

Officials said the Hashemite kingdom has been urging the administration to link any Palestinian entity in the West Bank with Jordan. They said an independent Palestinian state would soon be dominated by Hamas and threaten the kingdom.

"This is not a new message, but it has been repeated on more than one occasion to the United States amid its effort to set up a Palestinian state by 2009," an official said.

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On June 12, Jordan's military court sentenced three Hamas operatives convicted of conspiring to attack Israeli and Jordanians. The Hamas operatives, sent to jail from between five and 15 years, were said to have targeted Israeli businessmen and Jordanian intelligence officers.

One of the three defendants, Ayman Naji Al Daraghmeh, said he was ordered to attack targets in Jordan by a Hamas leader in Syria. The leader was not identified.

Officials said Jordan's King Abdullah has warned the administration that a Palestinian state in the West Bank would fuel the Islamic opposition and could lead to an attempt to overthrow the kingdom. They said Hamas has already made significant inroads in Jordan in wake of its takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Jordan has urged the United States to link any Palestinian entity in the West Bank to Amman. They said Abdullah has proposed a merger of the West Bank and the East Bank, an arrangement that lasted from 1949 to 1967.

"The only acceptable scenario for us is the merger of Jordan and all the West Bank," another official said.

Some officials have raised the prospect that a Palestinian state in the West Bank would result in a Jordanian backlash. They said such a backlash would include a sealing of its western border and a downgrading of relations with Israel.

On Wednesday, on the eve of a truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, at least six Palestinian insurgents were killed in an Israeli air strike. Palestinian officials reported that a senior commander of the Army of Islam, Muataz Dormoush, was killed in the attack. Mumtaz Dormoush, leader of the Army of Islam, is the half brother of Muataz Dormoush.

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