Jordan should ‘reconsider all its options’ in relationship with Israel

1. Israeli Violations Jordan
An Israeli security guard escorts a group of Jewish men and women during their visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, at the Aqsa Mosque Compound in the old city of Jerusalem on April 20, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — The ongoing crisis engendered by Israel’s latest decision to allow Jewish extremists to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex during Jewish Passover while preventing Muslim worshippers from accessing the Muslim site has cast a dark shadow over the 28-year-old Jordanian-Israeli relationship.اضافة اعلان

For years Israel has tried to alter the historical status quo at the Al-Aqsa complex, which includes dozens of Muslim sites, in clear violation of the 1994 Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty. In the past decade, and under the governments of Benyamin Netanyahu, His Majesty King Abdullah had to intervene personally on more than one occasion to stop Israel from altering the situation of the holy Muslim site.

Now, political analysts believe that Jordan has to be ready to adopt a different approach and prepare for the worst, instead of using the same traditional pressure tools and language of condemnation.

King Abdullah met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog on separate occasions in Amman in March, to ensure that calm in maintained in the occupied territories, East Jerusalem and at Al-Aqsa in particular, in order to avoid a repetition of what happened last May. Unfortunately, the Israeli government had other plans.

Jordanian officials are now warning that Israel is trying to enforce spatial and temporal division of Al-Aqsa, which is under the Hashemite Custodianship.

Former foreign minister and the first Jordanian ambassador to Israel Marwan Muasher told Jordan News that Jordan should seriously review its relationship with Israel and reconsider all its options, adding that the current Jordanian position is not sustainable since adhering to a two-state solution is not achieving any results.

“We are trying to strike an impossible balance between severely criticizing Israel on the political security front while maintaining strong economic ties with them. It is a contradictory relation,” Muasher said.

He added that measures like expelling the Israeli ambassador from Amman are not enough to solve the issue of violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, “not to mention the whole issue of occupation”.

Political Analyst Labib Kamhawi told Jordan News that the relationship has passed the boiling point and is ready for an explosion. He also believes that Jordan should change its traditional ways of trying to resolve this issue, and “decide if its position will be a publicity campaign that will not have an effect on the ground or to resort to all possible options, including canceling the 1994 peace treaty”.

“The goal is to prevent dividing Al-Aqsa and prevent violating our authority over it, not to protest after the situation escalates. If the Jordanian position is to pay lip service, then things will get much worse, and that will inflame people’s emotions,” Kamhawi said.

He added that he is not optimistic that Jordan will speak a different language, which would only allow the situation to escalate “since Jordan has a fragile economy and cannot bear American pressure”.

“I am more optimistic about what the Palestinians inside the occupied territories will achieve. The current stage is closer to an explosion because forthcoming violations at Al-Aqsa mean that the Arab identity of Jerusalem has ended,” Kamhawi said.

He added that the Hashemite Custodianship over the holy sites has slowly eroded due to Israeli violations over the years, and stressed that religious custody and political sovereignty should not be confused; the latter is the remit of the Palestinian Authority, since it is not a religious issue.

Former deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Jawad Anani told Jordan News that the Kingdom does not have new tools to deal with Israeli violations, besides the traditional ways, which include using its leverage with the US and Europe to apply pressure on Israel. Now even that will not work, what with the West occupied with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Anani said that one reason for the provocations at Al-Aqsa Mosque is the weakness of the Israeli government, which could fall if it does not appease the extremist Israeli right wing.

“They are trying to play a game to please the extremists because they know that without them, they cannot stay in power,” Anani said, adding that the relationship with Israel now is not different from that during Netanyahu’s tenure, “which was troubled for years”.

Political analyst and columnist Amer Al-Sabaileh told Jordan News that the political and diplomatic relationship between Jordan and Israel is back at a critical point.

“That is not bizarre, since Jordan uses the same old tools and language to deal with the conflict,” he said.

Israel is pushing Jordan toward an unsustainable political and diplomatic relationship, “so if Jordan, today, wants to influence and make a change, it should do more than engage through formal meetings and invitations”, he said.

He does not agree that the relationship is reaching the boiling point; instead, he believes that Israel is “going forward with whatever it wants”, and the tie with Jordan “currently has no real value since Israel has stable relations with other Arab countries, like the Gulf”.

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