Hussein of Jordan | legacy
Hussein considered the Palestinian issue to be the overriding national security issue, even after Jordan lost the West Bank in 1967 and after it renounced claims to it in 1988. Initially, Hussein attempted to unite both banks of the Jordan River as one people, but with the formation of the PLO in the 1960s, it became difficult to maintain such a policy. He was relentless in pursuit of peace, viewing that the only way to solve the conflict was by peaceful means, excluding his decision to join the war in 1967. The decision cost him half his kingdom and his grandfather's legacy. After the war he emerged as an advocate for Palestinian statehood. After renouncing ties to the West Bank in 1988, he remained committed to solving the conflict. His 58 secret meetings held with Israeli representatives since 1963 culminated in the signing of the Israel–Jordan peace treaty in 1994, which he considered to be his "crowning achievement".
Hussein's policy of co-opting the opposition was his most revered. He was the region's longest reigning leader, even though he was subject to dozens of assassination attempts and plots to overthrow him. He was known to pardon political opponents and dissidents, including those who had attempted to assassinate him. He gave some of them senior posts in the government. He was described as being a "
During his 46-year-reign, Hussein, who was seen as a charismatic, courageous, and humble leader, became widely known among Jordanians as the "builder king". He turned the Kingdom from a backwater divided polity into a reasonably stable well-governed modern state. By 1999 90% of Jordanians had been born during Hussein's reign. From the very start, Hussein concentrated on building an economic and industrial infrastructure to stimulate the economy and raise the
Hussein established the Al-Amal medical center in 1997, a clinic specializing in cancer treatment in Jordan. Renamed in 2002 to the
The King disliked paperwork, and had no solid view for the economy. He was dubbed the "fundraiser-in-chief": throughout his reign he managed to obtain foreign aid from different sources, leaving a legacy of a foreign aid-dependent Jordan. British aid in the early 1950s, American aid from 1957 onwards, Gulf aid in the 1960s and 1970s, Arab League and Iraqi aid in the early 1980s, and, after formalizing peace with Israel, American aid in the 1990s. He was also seen as too lenient toward some ministers who were alleged to be corrupt. The price of establishing peace with Israel he had to pay domestically, with mounting Jordanian opposition to Israel concentrating its criticism on the King. The recognition of the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians was also criticized since half of Jordanian citizens are Palestinian. The King reacted by introducing restrictions on freedom of speech, and changing the parliamentary electoral law into the one-man, one-vote system in a bid to increase representation of independent regime loyalists and tribal groups at the expense of Islamist and partisan candidates. The moves impeded Jordan's path towards democracy that had started in 1956 and resumed in 1989.