An uneasy peace for Hussein and Israel: As the treaty is prepared, bringing Arab and Jew together, the PLO stands aside, bitterly opposing Jordan's role in Jerusalem

King Hussein of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's Prime Minister, will make peace today in the absence of the Palestinians, over whom their countries have been in a state of war for 43 years.

The ceremony, in the dusty wadi of Araba between Jordan and Israel, will be replete with the stuff of televised history. In soaring temperatures and before the world's cameras, they will meet President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev, and scores of Arab and European officials in a carpeted bedouin tent of black goat hair, to sign the treaty that the two leaders claim will usher in a new era of Middle East peace.

However, Yasser Arafat, whose own unofficial treaty with Israel is crumbling into violence on the other side of the Jordan river, has been pointedly left uninvited by both the King and the Israeli Prime Minister. In response Mr Arafat ordered his 'Foreign Minister', Farouk Kaddomi, to turn down a separate invitation to attend.

Jordan's own Islamic opposition, not cowed by the latest royal warning against 'propaganda of false views about the Jordanian-Israeli peace', will also boycott the special session of the Jordanian parliament, which Mr Clinton will address tonight. Objections that the King is making peace while the West Bank and East Jerusalem remain under Israeli military occupation have been made repeatedly in the Jordanian press.

Jordanian security men watched in silence as members of the Islamist-dominated students' council at the University of Jordan staged a demonstration against the treaty, one of them raising a banner declaring: 'The mountains of Jordan refuse to have a Zionist who is full of hatred and a traitor who has surrendered step on this land.' However, the university has 20,000 students and a pro-government rally was swiftly arranged.

Publicly, most Jordanians welcome the peace agreement, more as official recognition of a truce that has lasted since the 1967 war than as the start of a new page in history. They have been bombarded with economic reasons why they should be satisfied with the treaty. The Jordanian Prime Minister, Abdul Salam Majali, says a number of Jordan Valley projects will be set in motion, while Germany has just given the country DM45m ( pounds 18.4m) in soft loans for development projects. Canada has just given another dollars 4.4m in grants.

Privately, many Jordanians express resignation, in the face of what they regard as the inevitable result of the end of the Cold War. American support for Israel, they say, has given Israel through peace what she could not obtain by war. If this is untrue - Israel, after all, can no longer suggest that Jordan is Palestine - the treaty has also set the King and the PLO against each other again. Mr Arafat is bitterly denouncing the King's acceptance of Israel's assertion that Jordan had special rights over the Islamic holy places of Jerusalem.

A fascinating insight into the King's thinking, and an indication of his contempt for the PLO, came on Monday night, when he addressed army officers at their barracks near Amman. Dressed in military uniform with a paratrooper's badge on his chest, the King blamed the PLO for the war in Jordan in 1970 - in which his bedouin troops slaughtered many Palestinians - for 'the destruction of Lebanon' and for 'the situation in Palestine now'.

These remarks will enrage Mr Arafat and other Arab nationalists, who blame Israel for the catastrophe in Lebanon - Israel invaded the country in 1978 and 1982 at the cost of more than 19,000 lives - and who say that Israel's failure to withdraw from more occupied land has provoked the recent increase in violence against Israelis.

The King also said he would not have made peace now if Mr Arafat had not undertaken his own secret negotiations with the Israelis last year. The King was furious when Mr Arafat told him what he had done. 'We did not give up Palestine and the Arab right in this part of the great Arab homeland,' the King told his soldiers. 'But the party responsible for representing the Palestinians . . . moved and consequently we had to take care of ourselves and deal with the situation.' Jordan, the King said, was 'prompted to sign the agenda of negotiations' with Israel only after it learned of the secret Oslo accord.

Angrily, the King referred to an act of 'ingratitude' that greeted his personal financial gift, that paid for the renovation of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem. 'I do not know how many of you are aware that the piece of marble which carried the date of the third Hashemite reconstruction was damaged within 24 hours of its erection,' he said. 'It is still damaged now . . .' The implication was that PLO sympathisers had defaced this marble recognition of the King's generosity.

Today, the 5,500 Jordanian, Israeli and American guests will be asked to recognise the cost in lives that Middle East wars have exacted from the two former belligerents, in a minute's silence in the desert. Mr Clinton will then travel to the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, the fortress north of Aqaba, before travelling to Amman to address the parliament.

Tomorrow, he will fly to Damascus to meet the Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad. He demands a total Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and Lebanon before signing a peace with Israel.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links