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WINTER 2004-2005


Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, a Former Negotiator, Reflects on Israel-Jordan Relations at a Conference Here Marking a Decade of a Formal Peace Former Jordanian Minister and Negotiator Heads Delegation from Jordan Here

“Leadership, the efforts of the negotiators to be creative, and confidence between the parties.”

These are the ingredients that the sides need when two countries sit down to hammer out a peace treaty, according to Israeli Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.  And these elements—along with hard work—are what went into the mix that led to the formal peace treaty between Israel and Jordan signed ten years ago and ratified by the Knesset in November 1994. 

Rubinstein should know.  As he reminded his audience at the University in early December, he had been involved in peace negotiations with Jordan dating back to the 1980s.  To this end, he had even traveled several times to Amman in disguise—wearing a wig, and once with a false mustache—in the early 1990s, prior to any agreement. 

During this period, he also had taken part in every secret meeting between an Israeli prime minister and the late King Hussein, describing that between Moshe Shamir and the Hashemite monarch on the eve of the Gulf War in 1990 as of “supreme importance in understanding each other’s position if war breaks out.”

Rubinstein views these meetings as “building blocks to confidence.”  Otherwise, he concludes, “the contents of the arrangements [between Israel and Jordan] wouldn’t have taken place.”

The occasion of these reminisces and insights was an invitation-only, four-day convocation on “Jordan-Israel Relations, The First Decade of a Formal Peace, 1994-2004.” 

The significance of the event was marked by a taped message played at the opening ceremony of the conference from Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal, whom Rubinstein described as the “unsung hero of the negotiations.”  Gen. (ret.) Mansour Abu Rashid, chairman of the Amman Center for Peace and Development, co-sponsor of the conference along with the University’s Jewish-Arab Center, led the Jordanian delegation to Mt. Carmel.

Rubinstein, who in his negotiating days was legal adviser to the foreign ministry and a close aide to Moshe Dayan, also had words of praise for the first night’s keynoter, Dr. Munther Haddadin, former Minister of Water and Irrigation for Jordan. He was a “pillar of the negotiations,” Rubinstein commented about his former negotiating partner.   “His contribution went beyond the first agreement with Israel.”  As an aside, he mentioned that the text of the accord “had been written out in his [Haddadin’s] beautiful handwriting.”  Had it been written in his own handwriting, he laughed, he never would have been able to read it.

There were no national traumas to overcome in the peace negotiations with Jordan as there were with Egypt and as exist with the Palestinians, Rubinstein acknowledged.  The two leaders at the time of the negotiations, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein, “radiated an atmosphere of peace.”  On the other hand, Rubinstein remarked, the treaty that was worked out “was not just giving formal dressing to a reality.” In addition to matters of water and security, the boundary issue was a thorny one.  Its resolution, he said, represented “an achievement.”

In effect, there was an exchange of land “that everyone could live with,” with cultivated land in the Arava remaining under Israeli control, the rest of the areas under contention given to Jordan.  The agreement “wasn’t secret,” he noted, “but it wasn’t publicized.”

Although Rabin had negotiated with the King in a tent in the Arava, the first “open meeting” in Jordan had taken place with Shimon Peres in July 1994, Rubinstein observed.  The bilateral talks held on either side of the border had been preceded by three years of meetings in Washington, which followed Madrid as the venue for Israeli-Jordanian contacts.

The Madrid conference in 1991, Rubinstein pointed out, “was the first official table where Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians sat together.”  It was, he thought, a lesson in “how to have an international gathering,” because it “provided a springboard for bilateral negotiations.

.“Many believed, and still believe, in a trilateral approach,” the former negotiator told his audience, adding that he did, too.


In This Issue:

President’s Focus
Continuity, Change, and Social Responsibility

Unique ‘Open Apartment’ Project Benefits Community and Students

University Obtains Its First Biotech Patent in the U.S.

Researcher Develops Computerized Handwriting Evaluation System

Prof. Yossi Ben-Artzi Named Rector of the University

Prof. David Faraggi—Deputy Rector

What If a Tsunami Hit? First Program of Its Kind in Israel Dealing with Mass Disaster

Eskesta Success Continues

Student Builds Internet Site of Never-Recorded Israeli Army Songs

University Campus Gradually Becoming Wireless

Honors and Appointments



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