Jordan Formally Annexes the West Bank and East Jerusalem

Jordan formally annexes the West Bank and East Jerusalem, allowing the Palestinian inhabitants therein to obtain Jordanian citizenship. King Abdullah had previously granted Jordanian citizenship to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Jerusalem in December 1949.

In annexing these lands, the Jordanian Houses of Deputies and Notables, in a joint session, adopted the following Resolution:

“In the expression of the people’s faith in the efforts spent by His Majesty, Abdullah, toward attainment of natural aspirations, and basing itself on the right of self-determination and on the existing de-facto position between Jordan and Palestine and their national, natural and geographic unity and their common interests and living space, Parliament, which represents both sides of the Jordan, resolves this day and declares:

First, its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State, which is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Husain, on a basis of constitutional representative government and equality of the rights and duties of all citizens…” (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Earlier in 1950, Israel and Jordan conduct a series of secret negotiations, apart from the UN Mediated armistice negotiations which are taking place simultaneously, aimed at securing a peace agreement.  The negotiations focus on entering into a five-year non-aggression pact and coordinating economic and commercial ties.  Discussions are held concerning territorial swaps and harbor rights for Jordan in Haifa and for Israel in Aqaba.

The news of these secret negotiations is not received well by other Arab states, especially Syria and Egypt, who begin to apply pressure within the Arab League to come to an agreement on a unified policy towards Israel.  On April 1, 1950, the Arab League passes a resolution which states, “No State (Member) of the Arab League may negotiate or actually conclude a separate peace (treaty) or any (other) political, military, or economic agreement with Israel. A (Member) State which does take any such course shall be considered to have withdrawn from the Arab League.”

On April 11, 1950, Jordan holds a Parliamentary election, in which West Bank Palestinians are able to vote.  The newly elected Parliament, which includes equal representation of Jordanians and Palestinians, approves the King’s Citizenship Law of December 1949 and the unification of the two banks of the Jordan River.

The annexation increases Jordan’s population three-fold, and provides the country with new challenges in security and integration of Palestinians.  A special commission is established to consolidate legal systems and members of the Palestinian elite are given positions in the government.

The unilateral move is regarded by the Arab League as an illegal annexation of land.  Despite the pressure applied on him, Abdullah resists Arab League attempts to impose a trusteeship over the West Bank instead of Jordanian sovereignty.  The King is interested in pursuing his “Greater Syria Plan,” of an all-Arab unified state in Jordan, Syria and Palestine. The Arab League, concerned that dealing harshly with Jordan over the annexation will result in renewed talks and possible peace with Israel, backs down, but never accepts the move.  Only Pakistan, Great Britain, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq (ruled by Abdullah’s great-nephew) recognize the territorial changes.  Britain, however does not accept Jordanian rule of Jerusalem, still desiring it to be designated as an international city as outlined in UN Resolution 181.

The West Bank and East Jerusalem remain under Jordanian control until Israel acquires them during the Six Day War in June 1967. For the next 20 years, Jordan seeks the return of these lands, finally relinquishing that objective in July 1988.

The photo below shows Jordanian King Abdullah I standing in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City in May 1948.