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Conflict in Gaza: Sparks Controversy and Dissent in Jordan

Title: Conflict in Gaza Ignites Controversy Across Jordan

The Eye of The Storm

As the conflict in Gaza rages on, it’s stirring up dissension within Jordan, driving a wedge between the government and its own residents. Thousands of Jordanians stage protests weekly, challenging their government to crack down on Israel and the USA.

Common People’s Clamor

In the heart of Amman, outside the Grand Husseini Mosque, a thousand odd people gather to voice their dissent against the war. A woman clad in a black and white keffiyeh, one of the many who make up the 60% Jordanian population of Palestinian origin, is resolute. As long as Palestinians suffer, she argues, the government isn’t doing enough.

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On another note, popular businesses such as Starbucks and McDonald’s have emptied as locals boycott in protest against U.S.’s vote opposing a ceasefire in Gaza. Discontent is brewing not just against the west, but also towards the home government.

Gas Deal Sows Discord

The bone of contention for many, like author and poet Hisham Bustani, is a controversial gas deal with neighbouring Israel. It’s deemed hypocritical to vocally support Palestinians but at the same time, finance Israel’s war by importing gas. Bustani’s national campaign against this agreement cites dissatisfaction across all strata: rich, poor, religious, atheists alike. Quoting Bustani,

“We are paying to be humiliated and controlled by Israel. We see Israel as a hostile, aggressive colonial state that expands its settlements.”

Change in Perspective

Jordan has generally been perceived as a stabilizing factor in the otherwise turbulence-filled region. But according to Bustani, many have renounced the idea of diplomacy as the best way forward. There are three main demands: no American military presence in Jordan, a pause in the peace agreement with Israel, and an end to gas imports.

Muhannad Al Mubaidin, a Jordanian minister and government spokesman, acknowledges the criticism but doesn’t agree. In his counterpoint, he raises concerns over potential inability to influence the region if connections to Israel and the USA are severed. He argues that this would further limit their capacity to ameliorate life in Gaza.

The Way Forward

Looking at the ongoing conflict, he assures:

“We desire peace for both Israelis and Palestinians and that Israel recognizes the Palestinians as individuals with rights to reside in their homeland.”

However, he laments that Israel has strayed from this goal, causing the region’s woes. Key historical events include the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994, sporadic wars since the formation of Israel in 1948, and a highly unpopular 15-year gas contract signed with Noble Energy in 2016.

Interestingly, more than half the population in Jordan is of Palestinian origin. Recent actions by the Jordanian administration such as pulling back its ambassador from Israel, advocating for an immediate ceasefire, promoting a two-state solution, and providing aid to Palestinians in Gaza are somewhat reflective of public opinion, albeit not completely putting out the fires of domestic dissent.

Only time will tell how this internal tug-of-war within Jordan plays out, as they grapple with being a diplomatic bridge and answering the call of their own people.

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