Jordan (formerly Transjordan) won control and occupied the West Bank including East Jerusalem during a period of nearly two decades (1948-1967) in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The occupation ended with the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel prevailed in battle with its neighboring Arab countries. Then Israel became the occupying power.
During the time when the West Bank was occupied by Jordan from 1948-1967, Jordan extended the rights of citizenship to the Arabs living in the West Bank and it executed a process to annex it to Jordan which was approved and recognized by Great Britain, and Pakistan, but not by the rest of the international community.
If one where to read first hand accounts of those living in the West Bank during the years that it was annexed to Jordan, it would paint a picture of how well its inhabitants were treated. But the level of discontent was also evident as Arab militants within the West Bank were unwilling to accept Jordanian rule. It was during this time frame that the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) was formed but with the approval of the Arab states including Jordan.
Richard Cavendish in the April 2000 History Today publication, in volume 50, issue 4, describes in the following commentary, the events that led up to the West Bank including East Jerusalem being formerly annexed by Jordan in 1950:
“The Arab emirate of Transjordan was carved out of the Ottoman Empire by the British after the First World War. A region of desert and mountains, with its capital at Amman and its western border on the River Jordan separating it from Palestine (Israel), Transjordan was ruled by the Emir Abdullah, of the Hashemite family, the princes of Mecca, who traced their descent back to the Prophet himself through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali. He was a brother of King Feisal of Iraq, and both of them had been involved with T.E. Lawrence in the Arab Revolt against the Turks. Afterwards Abdullah tried to persuade the British government to give him Palestine (West Bank). He had to settle for Transjordan, but his appetite for the Arab territory west of the Jordan remained.”
“Though it suited him to be portrayed as a simple Bedouin chieftain, Abdullah was an astute character, of broad sympathies and great personal charm. He had grown up largely in a cosmopolitan environment in Istanbul, where he had been a member of the Turkish parliament, and his experience of politics had taught him to be a realist. He spoke fluent Turkish and more English than he allowed the English to know. In 1946 Transjordan became a kingdom, independent of Britain, and in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 King Abdullah’s Arab Legion, trained and led by British officers, took the Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem and seized control of the West Bank area on the western side of the Jordan, which included Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus. The kingdom now changed its name to Jordan. The annexation of the West Bank, which more than doubled Jordan’s population, was chewed over in talks with Israel which petered out in March 1950. In April Jordan held an election for a new parliament to represent both banks of the Jordan. It met on the 24th to hear a speech from Abdullah and pass a resolution affirming support for ‘complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one state’ and formally incorporating the West Bank into the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan.”
“The arrangement was not to last. There were intense rivalries between the Arab states and leaders. Abdullah looked down on the Egyptians and was not on good terms with the Saudis. His belief in the possibility of living in peace with the Jews aroused fanatical hostility and in 1951 he was shot dead entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem by a Palestinian Arab. He was succeeded by his son Talal and then by his grandson, King Hussein. Arab militants in Palestine (West Bank including East Jerusalem) refused to accept Jordanian rule”
In 1964 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had been established to be a thorn in the side of Israel, but eventually it also became a thorn against Jordan. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) constantly incited the Palestinians against Jordan even though Jordan gave them citizenship and in general treated them better than any other Arab state. The PLO became such a threat to Jordan that King Hussein evicted them in 1970. Still, for years, Jordan proposed several ideas and peace plans for Israel and the Palestinians of the West Bank but all were rejected by Yasser Arafat, who insisted that his people wanted an independent state.
The following information is from the Jordanian website, http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo:
“One outcome of a 1964 Cairo summit was the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Concurring with other Arab leaders, King Hussein recognized the need for an organization of this kind which could coordinate Palestinian efforts. His only concerns were that the PLO should cooperate with Jordan and that its military activities should be under the strict control of the United Arab Command, lest they should inadvertently drag the Arabs into a war with Israel for which they were unprepared.”
“The mid-1960s also saw the rise of independent Palestinian guerrilla groups (known in Arabic as the fedayeen), the most notable of which was Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. In their relentless attempts to outbid Nasser, the Ba’thist Syrian government encouraged guerrilla raids into Israel—not from Syria, but from Lebanon or Jordan. The Israeli reprisals to these militarily senseless raids were predictably harsh, and Jordan was forced to reign in the guerrillas. For this, Jordan was attacked again by the propaganda machines in Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad.”
Eventually war ensued between Israel and the neighboring Arab states including Jordan and Egypt. This was the 1967 Six-Day War in which the Israelis prevailed, mightily.
For years, the Israelis refused to negotiate on any level with the PLO, the defacto governing body in the West Bank. Finally, Jordan’s King Hussein formally relinquished any and all duties over the West Bank in 1988. Meanwhile, anti-Israel protests broke out among the Arabs of the West Bank in December 1987, and became a constant feature of life in the West Bank for the next few years, despite the Israeli army’s attempts to suppress the unrest.
According to Enclclopedia.com, as of June 7. 1967, “Israeli law, jurisdiction, and public administration were extended over a 28-square-mile (73 sq. km) area of the West Bank, including the 2.3 square miles (6 sq. km) that had constituted the municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule. This de facto annexation placed East Jerusalem and its Palestinian inhabitants under Israeli sovereignty. East Jerusalem is now considered by Israel an indivisible part of its capital city. Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.”
“Other cities in the West Bank include Hebron, Bethlehem Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, and Jericho. The total population of the region in 2003 consisted of some 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank, with a further 180,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Over 200,000 Israeli settlers lived in the West Bank and a further 170,000 Israelis in East Jerusalem.”
“In 1967 the Palestinian population of the region was largely agricultural, but under Israeli rule many left agriculture to find employment in the Israeli cities as menial laborers. Following the onset of the first intifada in 1987, most of the Palestinians were excluded from the Israeli labor market, giving rise to widespread unemployment and severe poverty. In early 2003 the economic situation of the population was worse than it had ever been since 1967.”