The Chairman of the RCMPS does not see a negative impact of the war and calls for not rushing to form a party-based government until the idea matures.

Samir Al-Rifai: There is no threat of a Palestinian transfer to Jordan; these are merely the wishes of the far-right-wing government in Israel.

Amman – Samir Al-Rifai, Deputy Chairman of the Senate and former Prime Minister believes that the war on Gaza does not have a negative impact on the political modernization project. In an exclusive interview with the Jordanian Politics and Society Magazine, Al-Rifai urges various political forces to focus on the reform program rather than politically exploiting external events.

“I believe that if there is any impact from the Gaza war, it will merely be used by some political forces and not by the state. For the state, the modernization project is a mission desired by His Majesty the King since the beginning of his reign. When he informed us that he wanted a ten-year reform program that delivers program-based parties to parliament, that has not changed. From here, I know that politics is about convincing people, even emotionally, but what has changed is convincing them emotionally without having a real program that can improve the situation for Jordanians. This will clearly be short-term.”

In the same context, Al-Rifai points to the need for political forces not to invest external events in the internal equation. “My message to political forces is not to exploit external situations to cast doubt on each other’s positions, and not to seize this opportunity as a substitute for the existence of political action programs for parties, which means no slogans as an alternative to real programs.”

On the other hand, Al-Rifai, who was the head of the committee for modernizing the political system, believes that hastening the formation of a partisan government after the upcoming 2024 elections would be an abortion of the idea itself. “The committee worked on parliamentary, program-based parties and did not talk about a government. Therefore, the more we rush to form partisan governments in the sense that the entire government would be partisan, the more I believe we would be aborting the idea. The idea was that the parliament would be 30%, then 50%, then 65% partisan.”

He added: “Today, if a party expresses its desire for its secretary-general to become prime minister or a minister, we would have completely aborted the idea. And if we create small parties solely to represent an individual, we would have also aborted the idea. But the gradual approach today means 30%, then 50%, then 65%, which implies that the MPs should work as shadow governments until His Majesty the King becomes convinced that the time has come for parties to form the government.”

On the other hand, in his conversation with the Jordanian Politics and Society Magazine (published in English by the Politics and Society Institute), Al-Rifai did not rule out the idea of consulting political parties or involving them in the upcoming government as part of political qualification. He stated: “Personally, I am not against the idea of a party gaining six or seven seats in a future government. Let’s start by qualifying them so that in the future, we have parliament members from the parties who have worked in governments. They should not be there just because they belong to a party, but because they are well-versed in their party’s policies. For example, whether it’s the youth, water, or energy portfolio, in addition to representing their party, I believe this issue requires a gradual approach.”

In his assessment of Jordan’s stance on the war in Gaza, Al-Rifai sees it as consistent with Jordanian national interests, although at times emotion has overridden reason, which is not desirable. He says, “Sometimes Jordan bears more than it can handle, but it avoids scenarios faced by other countries that have paid the price for wrong decisions. Certainly, with all these positions, we often need to take two steps forward and one step back, three steps forward and one step back, to not lose sight of the strategic goal, which is to preserve Jordan, strengthen internal stability, improve the economic situation, create opportunities for Jordanian youth, and at the same time help our brethren in Palestine, ultimately achieving an independent Palestinian state.”

When asked about defining and prioritizing Jordan’s national interests concerning the war in Gaza, Al-Rifai outlines them as follows:

First Priority: (How do we fortify Jordan?) Fortifying Jordan means maintaining Jordan’s role based on moderation and peace, and attempting to establish positive relations with everyone. This is the primary priority because it has many economic implications, such as the wellbeing of Jordanians working abroad and Jordan’s economic interests.

Second Priority: (Fortifying the internal front with information and full transparency.) This is crucial for any situation or issue where we might need to make a decision, ensuring that citizens understand it is made not out of emotion but for Jordan’s protection.

Third Priority: (Continuing openness and Jordan’s pivotal role with the West.) Ultimately, our strength lies in our influence, as many capitals seek visits from His Majesty the King, rather than the other way around. Many countries in the region with abundant resources do not have the same opportunities that Jordan does.

Fourth Priority: (Ending the occupation) and addressing the recurring issue of transferring the Palestinians every ten years. In my opinion, some members of the extreme right-wing Israeli government wish to resolve the Palestinian issue by making the Palestinian people disappear or displacing them to other countries. This is evident in the Gaza war, where the Israeli army pressures the people of Gaza to move south, aiming to expel them to Egypt. As for the other countries neighboring Palestine, some of them are collapsing and have no institutions. Therefore, the rule is that the stronger you and your institutions and your position are, the more immune you become from any talk in the context of transfer.”

Regarding the risk of Palestinian transfer from the West Bank to Jordan and whether he sees it as a major and potential threat to national security, Al-Rifai responds: “There is no danger of displacement, but there are wishes from some members of the extreme right-wing Israeli government, who see that the solution to the Palestinian issue lies in the disappearance or displacement of the Palestinian people to another country. This is what we observe in Gaza today, where the Israeli army is pushing the people of Gaza southward, aiming to expel them. In return, the residents of the Strip refuse and continuously attempt to return to the northern areas. As for the other countries neighboring Palestine, some of them are collapsing and have no institutions. Therefore, the rule is that the stronger you and your institutions and your position are, the more immune you become from any talk in the context of transfer.”

It is worth mentioning that Al-Rifai’s full interview will be published in the first issue of the Jordanian Politics and Society Magazine, which is a periodical intellectual magazine that will be issued by the Politics and Society Institute in Amman, in English. This issue will cover Jordan, the war on Gaza, and the international and regional strategic dimensions of the war. It will feature writings by an elite group of distinguished intellectuals and scholars, and will also include important reports and critical reviews.

Ahmed Qudah, Head of Media and Public Relations at the Politics and Society Institute (PSI), states that the issue focuses on the war on Gaza and its implications on Jordan’s national security and strategic interests, within international and regional contexts. According to Qudah “The issue features diverse and multiple views from prominent politicians and experts participating in this issue of the magazine”.

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