Political Parties in the West Bank under the Jordanian Regime, 1949-1967

Political Parties in the West Bank under the Jordanian Regime, 1949-1967

Political Parties in the West Bank under the Jordanian Regime, 1949-1967

Political Parties in the West Bank under the Jordanian Regime, 1949-1967

Excerpt

When Israel took over the West Bank from Jordan after the Six- Day War in June 1967, it found no political parties functioning openly in the area. They had all been outlawed more than a decade before, under an order issued by King Husayn in April 1957. The ban had come in the wake of widespread political unrest throughout Jordan, including the West Bank, following the dismissal of the Sulayman al-Nabulsi government. The opposition parties had come out against the new government of Fakhri al-Khalidi and demanded that it be replaced by a cabinet representing all the main parties in Jordan--the National Socialists, the Baath, the Qawmiyun, and the so-called National Front (the Communists). The unrest in the early months of 1957 took the form of street demonstrations, some of which were violent. The authorities tried first to avoid any action that might exacerbate the situation, but the growing violence in the streets and the gathering political storm among the parties induced the government to take drastic measures, including the banning of all political parties at the end of April that year.

Although it appeared to be somewhat reluctant to take this draconian step, the Hashemite regime had made the necessary preparations some time in advance. At the beginning of January 1957, the Jordanian Security Services had ordered detailed lists to be drawn up of all political activists in Jordan, to make ready for their possible arrest. The policy pursued in the early months of 1957 is reminiscent of developments in Jordan thirteen years later, in September 1970. Then, also, King Husayn let the opposition of the day, the PLO, increase unabated its attacks on the regime and gain self-confidence, then unexpectedly struck and suppressed it. In the same way, in 1957, Husayn had decided as early as January that he would outlaw the political parties, but chose to allow the situation to deteriorate to such a degree that the move would seem justified--that is, given the chaos threatening Jordan by April of . . .

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