Jordan must save its bilateral relations with Israel


Ma’ariv, Israel, April 20

I have always been, and still am, convinced of the need for good bilateral relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. The reasons for this are diverse but can be summed up succinctly by the idea that a warm peace is of the utmost interest to both countries. That said, there are some red lines in this relationship that shouldn’t be crossed, and Jordan has unfortunately crossed them. Last week, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh spoke in parliament and made offensive, false and insulting remarks against Israel. His use of extreme terminology is intolerable. Wanting to express his support for the Palestinian rioters, he said that the Jews are “defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque”. It’s a sharp terminology. Additionally, following the clashes on the Temple Mount, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Jordan was summoned to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, where he was reprimanded. In response, Israel must immediately invite the Jordanian ambassador to the Foreign Ministry for an equal reprimand. He must be made to understand that Israel is a sovereign and independent country which can oversee its own public order. Jordan, for its part, is tasked with helping to calm tensions, as promised by Israeli officials who visited the king. The king’s domestic political challenges are well known, but Israel will not be his scapegoat. The late King Hussein, who also faced similar difficulties, handled the issue with rare political wisdom. He understood that close relations with Israel were of the greatest interest to the kingdom. Over the past year, Israel has made a sincere effort to restore relations with Amman. He seems to have succeeded. The words of the Jordanian Prime Minister go against this trend. If a referendum is held on the feelings of the Israeli public towards Jordan’s conduct, I’m not sure the king will be happy with the results. If this is the kingdom’s attitude towards the Palestinians, and these are the words of support for the Palestinians coming from a key figure as prime minister, it is no surprise that there is a significant portion of Israelis who believe that Jordan is Palestine. But this is not Israel’s official position. The two countries must now stop with all their might the deterioration of relations caused by the Jordanian Prime Minister. The process of restoring relations, which Israel and Jordan began about a year ago, must not be stopped. The Prime Minister’s remarks must be condemned. The king must curb the negative fervor of his prime minister and quickly return to cooperation for the benefit of both countries. –Yitzhak Levanon (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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