President Trump’s long-awaited plan for making peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians could have severe consequences for Jordan, one of America’s best, and oftentimes overlooked, partners in the Middle East. Although Trump’s plan may not be unveiled until after September’s Knesset elections (if it is ever fully revealed at all), the potential for the plan to cancel the two-state solution is a matter of great concern for the Jordanians. Far from welcoming the Trump team’s forthcoming peace plan, Jordanians at all levels of society, from the palace to the street, are expecting an American plan that will enact the Watan al-Badil, which means making Jordan an alternative homeland for the Palestinians and accepting Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. Jordan is a Palestinian majority nation, and at a time when endemic instability caused by political, social, and economic unrest inside Jordan appears to be the new normal, the question of Palestine would be accelerant to the fire in Jordan.

For more than half a century, the United States has regarded Jordan as an indispensable partner in an unstable region, working closely with Jordan to combat violent extremist organizations, mitigate the aftershocks of regional conflicts such as in Syria, and advancing the Middle East peace process.  The U.S. is committed to Jordan’s security, stability, and prosperity to a degree that is almost unlike any other country on Earth, with the United States providing more than $20 billion in assistance to the Hashemite Kingdom since the 1950s. Jordan also hosts an estimated 2,000 U.S. military personnel and the Jordanians are close military and intelligence partners to the United States. Jordan is also one of only two Arab countries (the other being Egypt) that has signed a peace treaty with Israel, which has facilitated the possibility of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The close bond between the United States and Jordan is what makes the current risks to the U.S.-Jordanian relationship because of the Trump administration’s peace plan so concerning. Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently and publicly informed Jared Kushner that any deal that would preclude a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as its capital would not be supported by the Hashemite Kingdom. President Trump’s team could force the Jordanians into a position where they will have to break with America on one of the signature issues of U.S.-Jordanian collaboration, Israel-Palestine peace. While Jason Greenblatt, one of the three core members of the Israel-Palestine peace plan team, has publicly denied that the Trump administration seeks to make Jordan the future homeland of the Palestinians, rumors are rife in Amman that Trump’s team is in fact seeking this end state, or something like it.

Over the last few months, reports have emerged that the administration has offered Jordan billions of dollars of assistance as a type of compensation for supporting its peace plan, even though King Abdullah has reportedly not seen it to understand its impact on Jordan. There are concerns in Amman that President Trump might punish Jordan by cutting the significant U.S. assistance to the Hashemite Kingdom if it does not go along with his “deal of the century” for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Perception matters in the Middle East, and whether the Trump team has actually taken a carrot-and-stick approach with the Hashemite Kingdom on this specific issue, the fact that these rumors are spreading in Amman, combined with King Abdullah II’s repudiation of the concept of the Watan al-Badil and any other end goal than the creation of a Palestinian state, should be a warning to the Trump team.

Increasingly, Jordanians are in an uproar over the idea that the Trump administration could allow Israel to annex the West Bank, make Jordan the new Palestinian homeland, and force Jordan to naturalize millions of Palestinian refugees resident in the Hashemite Kingdom, further upsetting the demographic balance in the country and making the “East Banker” Jordanians officially a minority in their own country. Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the idea that the same move could be made regarding the West Bank and Jerusalem, has spurred Jordan’s King Abdullah II into action on the subject of Israel and Palestine.

Significantly, the King has recently increased his appearances in mixed areas, notably the restive city of Zarqa, where he asserted in a speech that the Palestinian state, Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, and the Hashemite Kingdom’s trusteeship over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, were “red lines” for Jordan. King Abdullah cancelled a planned trip to Romania in late March because the Romanian Prime Minister made a speech at the 2019 American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) annual convention that asserted Romania’s position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The King has also pushed for, and received, Arab League support for Jordan’s position on the status of Jerusalem, and even more, public support for his custodianship over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. King Abdullah is likely making these moves because he feels the pressure from Jordan’s continually deteriorating economy, an unpopular tax law that is part of IMF-imposed austerity measures, the rising cost of living and obtaining existential needs for Jordanians, and the resulting social and political pressures that are resulting from this deteriorating situation.

Despite the ever present threat from Salafist-jihadist organizations such as ISIS or from the network of Hezbollah groups that is supported by Iran in Syria, these threats are still mainly present outside of Jordan’s borders, while Jordanian national security is still most threatened by the question of Palestine and how that question impacts Jordan’s internal stability. This question was the cause of the worst civil conflict in Jordan’s history as a nation, the 1970 Black September fighting that was the gravest threat faced by former King Hussein, and the memory of Black September informs the Hashemite monarchy’s approach to Jordan’s Palestinian population today. Although Jordan has made great gains in bridging the divide between its population of Palestinian origin and the East Banker tribes, no issue, not even the economy, is as deeply felt and has the most explosive potential to undermine Jordan’s stability than the question of Palestine.

Therefore, the Trump administration would be playing with fire if it outs an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on the table that is so unbalanced in favor of the Israelis that it is both rejected outright by the Palestinian leadership and declared unsupportable by Jordan.  In this scenario, the current government in Israel could decide that there is no Palestinian partner for peace (despite the reality of an unwarranted and unworkable U.S. plan) and then choose to annex parts of the West Bank with American support. Israel’s annexation would lead to an irreversible path that would make the two-state solution impossible to achieve, thereby placing Jordan in the tough position of being the default, remaining homeland for the Palestinians.

The death of the two-state solution would be unaffordable for Jordan, both economically and politically, and could result in a social meltdown within Jordan leading to violent conflict between East Bankers and Palestinians. East Bankers have lost many socio-economic privileges over the last three decades because of government drives for privatization and Jordan’s weakening economy, while Palestinians dominate the private sector of Jordan’s economy but are underrepresented politically in the Hashemite Kingdom due to quirks in the country’s electoral system. The Palestinian question as it is experienced by East Bankers could simmer into a boil, even as Palestinians continue to be underrepresented in Jordan’s political system and in the security sector, which remains a bastion of East Banker power.

This scenario would be a nightmare for Jordan because Amman and the area around it that includes several mixed East Banker and Palestinian cities-including important cities such as Salt and Zarqa-could become a zone of endemic protests against the Hashemite monarchy and the Jordanian government and a site of conflict between the East Bankers and Palestinians. The Palestinian pattern of settlement in Jordan, which is heavily in and around Amman, would make endemic Palestinian unrest over the consequences of President Trump’s peace plan a nightmare that would threaten the security of Jordan’s capital and the stability of the country as a whole.

Trump’s small team working on the Israel-Palestine peace plan has made it clear that it is eager to make bold moves, such as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or removing American funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), that it believes have been actions that in the past were unnecessarily considered taboo to make. These moves have fed into the Jordanian perception that the Trump administration is unafraid to lay out a peace plan that would kill the hope for an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and therefore leaving the burden of caring for the Palestinians of the West Bank onto Jordan.

King Abdullah II is one of American’s best friends in the Middle East and the fact that he has been recently spurred to action, publicly and unreservedly, to contest even the thought that Jordan could become the Watan al-Badil, staking his reputation with his people (both Palestinians and East Bankers) should not be taken lightly by the United States. Also, while the Trump team  may not be pursuing a policy to spite Jordan, or to create the conditions that would throw Jordan into social and political chaos, it does seem that administration does not fully understand Jordan’s concerns and does not understand the second order effects its Israel-Palestine peace plan could have on Jordan.

If it wants to have a peace plan that has any chance of success, the Trump administration should not be perceived to be apathetic about Jordan’s concerns, nor should it view the significant assistance that Jordan receives from the United States as hush money that will keep Jordan quiet if the Jordanians believe the plan is bad for peace, bad for Jordan’s security, and bad for regional stability. Trump’s team should acknowledge that a fact on the ground that it cannot deny is that there is no sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without the active cooperation of Jordan. As it stands now, the administration does not seem to have won over the Jordanians to its forthcoming peace plan and that current American effort is doing more harm than good by exacerbating Jordan’s internal challenges and security.