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History, The 1973 War and After

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Syrian troops, low voter turnout, Gulf of Aqaba, King Hussein

The short, indecisive Arab-Israeli War of 1973 began on October 6 and lasted for 18 days. Jordan contributed some token forces to assist Syrian troops fighting against Israel in the Golan Heights region. After the war the PLO gained standing in the Middle East, and in 1974 Jordan reluctantly recognized it as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. In return, Jordan was promised economic and military aid from other Arab nations. In November King Hussein dissolved parliament so it could be reconstituted without representatives of the West Bank. Elections for the new Chamber of Deputies were postponed indefinitely in early 1976.

In 1975 Jordan established closer ties with Syria, mainly in order to guard against a possible attack by Israel. King Hussein refused to accept the 1978 U.S.-sponsored Camp David Accords on the Middle East, because they failed to provide for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories; in 1979 he denounced Egyptís separate peace with Israel. Jordan supported Iraq in its war with Iran beginning in 1980, a policy that strained relations with the pro-Iranian government of Syria. In January 1984 parliament held its first regular session in ten years, and limited parliamentary elections took place in March.

In July 1988, in response to months of demonstrations by Palestinians in the Israeli-held West Bank, Hussein ceded to the PLO all Jordanian claims to the territory. Islamic fundamentalists showed significant strength in Jordanís first general election in 22 years, held in November 1989. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, King Hussein unsuccessfully sought to play a mediating role. Meanwhile, the large influx of refugees from the Persian Gulf region, combined with the worldwide embargo on trade with Iraq, took a toll on the Jordanian economy. An influx of Jordanians who had fled from Kuwait and Iraq increased the countryís unemployment rate to 30 percent. The falling worth of the Jordanian dinar also added to the countryís economic problems. Jordanís apparent tilt toward Iraq during the Persian Gulf War strained relations with the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab states. A joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation took part in the comprehensive Middle East peace talks that began in October 1991. Also in 1991, King Hussein lifted a ban on political parties, paving the way for the countryís first multiparty elections since 1956. These elections, held in 1993, resulted in a loss of seats for conservative religious parties and the election of a woman to the parliament for the first time. In 1997 elections, marked by a boycott by Islamic opposition parties and low voter turnout, candidates loyal to the king gained ground.

In July 1994 Hussein signed a peace agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, ending 46 years of war and strained relations between the two countries. In October, Prime Minister Abdul-Salam al-Majali of Jordan and Rabin signed a full peace treaty, making Jordan the second Arab nation (after Egypt) to establish relations with Israel. The treaty resolved the long-standing and deeply disputed issue of land and water rights: Israel agreed to return about 350 sq km (about 135 sq mi) of disputed territory to Jordan, most of it located in the Arava, just north of the Gulf of Aqaba, in exchange for a much smaller portion of land then under Jordanian control. Israel also agreed to make 50 million cu m (13.2 billion gallons) of water available to Jordan each year, mostly by diverting flows from the Jordan River. In addition, the two governments agreed to a full normalization of diplomatic relations, and cooperation in areas of mutual concern such as tourism, transportation, environmental protection, trade and economic development. While Israel recognized Jordanís claims to Islamic shrines in Jerusalem, Jordan pledged not to participate in anti-Israeli alliances, or to allow its land to be used for such purposes. In September 1997 relations between Jordan and Israel were strained again by Israelís unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the founder of Hamas, a militant Islamic group responsible for frequent terrorist acts against Israel, in Amman.

In February 1999 Hussein died of cancer. He was succeeded by his son, Abdullah bin al-Hussein, whom he had named as his successor the previous month. Abdullah vowed to continue the moderate policies of his father. Soon after Abdullah assumed the throne, many Western and Arab nations, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, promised financial support to help maintain political and economic stability in Jordan.

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