• - Israeli soldiers close the gate leading to the Island of Peace in Naharaim, northern Israel, on the border with Jordan, on November 9, 2019. Photo by Basel Awidat/Flash90

Is Peace Gone Between Israel and Jordan?

editor - 13 December 2019

Not only has the peace between Jordan and Israel turned cold, but it also looks to be on the verge of collapse.

Jordan recently ‘celebrated’ the 25th anniversary of its peace treaty with Israel by recalling its ambassador to Jewish State. The move is highly symbolic of the state relations between Israel and Jordan, 25 years after the peace agreement was signed by the late King Hussein the slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in the presence of former US President Bill Clinton.

In Israel, there are those like Ksenia Svetlova of Mitvim, The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, who agree with Jordanian anti-Israel activists that the deterioration in the relations between the two countries is solely on the fault of the Netanyahu government which allegedly misses every opportunity to increase cooperation with the Hashemite Kingdom.

Ariel Kahana, writing for Israel HaYom, strongly disagrees with Svetlova and claims the cold peace has its advantages. “Israel offers Jordan the strategic backing it needs to deal with the threats it faces; it supports the preservation of Jordan as the Hashemite Kingdom, and it opposes the ‘Jordan is Palestine’ concept,” Kahana wrote.

“Israel further lends Jordan a powerful status on the Temple Mount, sells its natural gas at floor rates and provides it with significant water supply, as well as enables European goods heading to Jordan to pass through the Haifa port and land crossings,” he added.

On the other hand Kahana claims that Jordan keeps the tensions with the Palestinians from boiling over, and adds that this is particularly true when it comes to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“Why is the climate acerbic? Because every public step King Abdullah takes to signal warming ties with Israel will meet with scathing domestic criticism, to the point of rattling the throne,” according to the Israeli journalist.

The Jordanian King is dealing with increasing opposition to his regime, something that has been under-reported by both Israeli and international media.

Take, for example, what happened in Jordan when protesters in Ramtha threw shoes (a very humiliating act in Muslim countries) and stones at giant billboards with photos of King Abdullah. The protests were followed by gun battles between opponents of Abdullah’s regime who are members of the Bani Hassan tribe, and regime forces in the city of Zarqa, Jordan’s third-largest city.

To divert attention from the many failures of his regime to solve severe economic and social problems Abdullah uses the Palestinian issue to protect his rule over Jordan which is home to a Palestinian majority and roughly 1.5 million Syrian refugees who were taught to hate Israel.

In March this year, the King made clear he sees himself as the patron of Jerusalem, which he still seems to regard as a part of Jordan. “Jerusalem and the future of Palestine are a red line for Jordan. I don’t think I can make it any clearer… As a Hashemite, how could I (possibly) relinquish Jerusalem? That is impossible. It is a red line. (I say) a resounding no to (relinquishing) Jerusalem,” Abdullah said at the time.

Jordan announced last year that it would not extend the lease of the two parcels of land because of domestic opposition against the peace deal with Israel. At the same time, Jordan is careful not to end security cooperation with Israel because it fears an influx of Islamists from Syria. For this reason, both Jordan and Israel asked President Donald J. Trump to keep some US Special Forces in southern Syria near the Jordanian border.

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