The Middle East Rejection Watch
As a writer who spends an hour – or often more – staring despondently at the computer trying to come up with a decent headline or imploring others to do the mindnumbing task for her, I appreciate the value of a good headline as much as anyone else. But the recent AP report on the meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh shocked me out of my morning stupor:
‘Jordan rejects US call to improve ties with Israel.’ What?! Did the Middle East’s politicians receive a joint memo to switch sides, ala Walid Jumblatt and the March 14 coalition in Lebanon?
I then checked the Jordan Times – not known for its independent reporting but at least it would’ve had a report on this 180-degree turn – and this is what I was presented with
Clearly a comprehensive approach and a rejection for improving ties with Israel are two very, very different things. But what it appears to be is that the AP reporter tried to create too much of a link to the Saudi stance on Israel and the Jordanian FM’s statement. Of course, I don’t think he realized that Jordan can’t really reject a call to ‘improve relations’ anymore than it already has: you know, after being the second country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, closely interlinked to peace negotiations in the region and opening up borders and embassies.
But there’s something interesting in Judeh’s statement:
“In the Middle East, there has been in the past an overinvestment, perhaps, by the parties in pursuing confidence-building measures, conflict-management techniques, including transitional arrangements, and an overemphasis on gestures, perhaps at the expense of reaching the actual end game.”
Is that a well-versed way of saying ‘we’re tired of the fluffy statements and never-ending flurry of flights between Amman-Ramallah-Tel Aviv-Washington DC’? This may really be time for Jordan to take a harder line than it has in the past: though it may come at the expense of AP headlines and censure from the Americans.