Magoosh GRE

Analyze and identify the motives that encouraged Jordan and Israel to conclude a peace treaty in 1994

| March 31, 2015

Research question and aims:
The intention of this research is to analyze and identify the motives which encouraged both Jordan and Israel to conclude a peace treaty in 1994 and the challenges which they faced in doing so. A key objective will be to identify the personal motivations of King Hussein, Yitzhak Rabin and their foreign diplomacy teams. This investigation will be set within the context of Jordan and Israel’s diplomatic history.
The research problem addressed by this dissertation is the need to unpick highly complex relations, based as they were in this instance on the coexistence of formal hostilities and covert cooperation and negotiation. This is an important endeavor because at the heart of past Jordanian-Israeli conflict has been the issue of Palestinian nationalism and self-determination. Indeed the peace treaty followed in the wake of Israel’s and Palestine’s mutual recognition of the other’s right to exist. Ongoing tension between Israeli and Palestinian territories suggests the need to comprehend the decisions, policies and personalities which have had a role in creating the current situation.

Subject area and relevance to Diplomatic Studies:
Since the 1948 Israeli-Arab war the most enduring obstacle to peace between Israel and Jordan has been the issue of territorial concessions, especially regarding the West Bank. On this occasion a ratified peace agreement eluded the two countries and Jordan continued to take part in hostile action against Israeli during the 1967 war and, albeit minimally, also during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Again, neither conflict ended with a viable peace treaty. Concurrently Jordan’s accommodation of Palestinian refugees made it home to the Palestinian nationalist movement and provided an operation base for the Palestine Liberation Organisation. PLO attacks on Israel from within Jordan made it a target for Israeli retaliation, leading to its eventual expulsion from the country (though not before Jordan’s own national security had become entwined with Palestinian nationalism). Peace was eventually facilitated by Jordan’s retraction of its claim to the West Bank, the 1993 Oslo Accords and an ongoing unofficial state of non-belligerence. The primary motives and challenges which characterized peace negotiations surrounded the issues of refugees, security, water and borders. The Jordan-Israel peace treaty is well documented in existing literature, as is the history briefly outlined above of the two countries’ diplomatic relationship since the establishment of Israel. This background information will not only provide the necessary foundations for this dissertation but also suggests that an appropriate level of data will be yielded on the subject.

Literature Review:
One of the most comprehensive accounts written about King Hussein’s decision to negotiate peace with Israel, Crossing the Jordan, was authored by journalist Samuel Segev. Whilst scrupulously detailed it does not assume a theoretical stance in understanding the relationship and relies upon a relaying of events. Important survey texts by the likes of Yapp, Halliday, Lewis and Schulze position the peace treaty within the broader context of Middle Eastern conflict and consequently do not explore in depth the motives and challenges faced by Israel and Jordan in 1994. Other texts, such as Shlaim’s The iron wall, do afford greater attention to the peace treaty, but concentrate on the experience of one country. Subsequently there is much scope for an analysis which conjoins the motivations of both parties. This group of secondary literature sees the challenges faced by the ongoing pursuit for peace as a product of broader Arab foreign relations and subsequently deals with the international context in at length. These texts are therefore essential in determining the wider foreign policy situation which conditioned the tone and content of the peace treaty as well as its consequences.


Across the board the importance of third party involvement, particularly from the US who created the arena and circumstances in which Jordon and Israel agreed upon the Declaration of Principles in 1993, is stressed. This research therefore has to question how far this intervention helped to overcome any difficult challenges the two countries were dealing with and why it strengthened Israel and Jordan’s resolve to compromise and find common ground on which to base a lasting peace.

Research method:
The research methodology for this project is wholly qualitative and will be based on document study and analysis. Existing literature is a good starting point for deconstructing the motives and challenges guiding the peace treaty. Accordingly an important aspect of this dissertation will be the critiquing of this body of work in line with primary research findings.
Motivations can only be fully understood in relation to the priorities and diplomatic experience of the individuals involved in the peace process. For example, King Hussein was a practiced negotiator who had close ties with the West and felt uncomfortable allying his country with the aggressive stance assumed at varying times by his Arab neighbours Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Therefore it is a significant methodological problem for this research that the Israeli and Jordanian state archives have not disclosed papers relating to the 1994 peace treaty. This makes it harder to access the private thoughts of important personnel. As a result a research approach is required which overcomes this restriction.

In order to achieve this, the research carried out here will focus on the close analysis of alternative primary sources. These will primarily be the peace treaty itself and associated public documents such as the Declaration of Principles, interviews given by the people involved, speeches, personal accounts, memoirs, and newspaper reports. Together these will reveal various individuals’ motivations and their perceptions of the challenges which stood in the way of peace. Work by other researchers based on special access to government documents and secret papers, especially Ashton’s on King Hussein, are going to be highly important.

Chapter headings:
It is anticipated that the chapters which constitute the main body of the text will be divided thematically and based around the dominant motives and challenges the peace treaty addressed. This allows in depth analysis of each component and sets it apart from the chronological narratives which most current works on the subject utilize. A possible division of the thesis is as follows;

• Introduction
• Jordanian-Israeli diplomatic relations since 1948
• National Security
• Palestine and the West Bank
• Water and Jerusalem
• Conclusion

Indicative Bibliography:

Primary sources;

Documents – Declaration of Principles, 1993
Jordanian-Israel Peace Treaty, 1994
Memoirs – Rabin, Y., The Rabin memoirs, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1996
Online newspaper archives – Historical Jewish Press,
Jerusalem Post,
Jewish News Archive,

Speeches and interviews –
Secondary sources;
Ajami, F., The Arab Predicament, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992
Ashton, N., King Hussein of Jordan: A political life, Yale University Press, Yale, 2008
Benedikt, L., Yitzhak Rabin: The Battle For Peace, Haus Publishing, London, 2005
Gerges, F. A., The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics, Syracuse University Press, New York, 1991
Halliday, F., The Middle East in International Relations: Power, politics and ideology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005
Hinnebusch, R., & A. Ehteshami (eds.), The Foreign Policies of Middle East States, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2001
Korany, B., & A. Dessouki (eds.), The Foreign Policies of Arab States: The challenge of globalisation, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, 2010
Lewis, B., The Middle East:2000 years of history from the rise of Christianity to the present day, Phoenix, Washington, 2001
Schulze, K., The Arab-Israeli conflict, Longman, London, 1999
Schulze, R., A Modern History of the Islamic World, I. B. Tauris, London, 2002
Shlaim, A., The iron wall: Israel and the Arab world, Penguin, London, 2001
Shlaim, A., Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace, Penguin, London, 2008
Yapp, M. E., The Near East Since the First World War, Longman, London, 1996

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