Middle East Monitor / June 14, 2021
New details have emerged about the alleged plot to overthrow Jordan’s King Abdullah, indicating that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played a starring role along with senior officials within the Trump administration, prominent Jordanians, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Details of the role played by Netanyahu, who was ousted yesterday after the Israeli parliament voted in a new coalition government led by the far-right nationalist Naftali Bennett, was reported in a Washington Post article by David Ignatius titled “Inside the palace intrigue in Jordan and a thwarted ‘deal of the century‘“.
Ignatius shed light on one of the biggest stories of April when Jordan’s former crown prince Hamzah Bin Hussein was accused of plotting to oust King Abdullah II. The alleged plot is said to have been backed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, also known as MBS.
Ignatius’s account is based on a Jordanian investigative report on the case as well as discussions with current and former officials with knowledge of former US President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy. King Abdullah’s objection to the so-called “deal of the century” is said to have been the reason for the plot to undermine him. The success of the plan required a new arrangement for occupied East Jerusalem that would seek to displace Jordanian or Hashemite custodianship of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In March 2019, two months before the Trump administration released the economic portion of the plan in Bahrain, titled “Peace to Prosperity“, King Abdullah issued one of the harshest condemnations of the so-called peace plan. “I will never change my position on Jerusalem … regardless of what other people say. We have a historical duty toward Jerusalem and the holy sites. … Is there pressure on me from abroad? There is pressure on me from abroad. But, to me, this is a red line,” Abdullah said.
In a separate interview, around the same time, King Abdullah was even more emphatic about his objection. “I, as a Hashemite, how could I backtrack or let go of Jerusalem? Impossible. … People talk about the ‘deal of the century,’ or an alternative homeland. How? Do we not get a voice?” he is reported saying.
Ignatius claims that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser on the negotiations, embraced Netanyahu and MBS — but grew increasingly antagonistic toward the Jordanian king. “It became a belief of Trump that the king was a hindrance to the peace process,” one former senior CIA official was reported saying. While Trump, Netanyahu, and MBS don’t appear to have been working to overthrow the king, their actions clearly weakened him and encouraged his enemies, Ignatius writes.
It’s suggested that Netanyahu operated in a rogue fashion, colluding with MBS and Kushner to undermine King Abdullah. Ignatius writes that Mossad and Shin Bet security service representatives personally contacted King Abdullah disavowing any role in the alleged plot. The theme, according to a former US intelligence official cited by Ignatius, was: “This is not us. It’s coming from in front of us,” meaning that it was Netanyahu that was part of the plot.