Although the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty signed today fits a major piece in the Mideast stability puzzle, it falls far short of a comprehensive settlement, a Kansas University professor says.
"I would imagine from the Palestinian perspective, this peace treaty settles issues between two states but ignores the Israeli-Palestinian issue," said Deborah Gerner, associate professor of political science. "We now have three actors: Egypt, Jordan and the PLO. This treaty is significant because you begin to have a critical mass of countries" accepting the Jewish state.
With the Jordan accord, a peace treaty with Egypt holding up firmly and a preliminary deal with the Palestinians in place, Israel arguably has reached its greatest level of acceptance in 46 years as a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.
But Palestinians oppose the treaty, which may give Jordan's King Hussein authority over holy Muslim and Christian sites in East Jerusalem. Many fear the treaty may erode their chances of gaining a Palestinian state.
"From the Palestinian perspective, the fact that this treaty gives King Hussein the authority over sites in East Jerusalem is a slap in the face ... to the Palestinian people," Gerner said.
Gerner said the treaty probably would not affect the level of violence by Palestinian or Israeli extremists.
But she said it could improve individual perceptions between Israelis and Jordanians.
"We're not going to see an instant love-in," she said. "It's going to be a process of getting to know the other ... as individuals rather than stereotyped groups."
Gerner said it was "absolutely appropriate" that President Clinton is going to Syria, the next state likely to take part in the peace process.
"If you trace the Syrian press ... it's clear that they would be willing to negotiate an agreement with Israel, which I don't think would have been true 10 years ago or even 5 years ago," Gerner said.