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Jordan Must Salvage Its Bilateral Relations With Israel
Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Bisher Al-Khasawneh, then adviser to King Abdullah II for communication and coordination at the Royal Hashemite Court in Amman, Oct. 15, 2019. (Hani Khasawneh/Wikimedia Commons)

Jordan Must Salvage Its Bilateral Relations With Israel

Ma’ariv, Israel, April 20

I’ve always been, and still am, a believer in the need to have good bilateral relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. The reasons for this are varied but can be succinctly summed up by the idea that a warm peace is of the highest interest for the two countries. That said, some red lines in this relationship must not be crossed, and Jordan has unfortunately crossed them. Last week, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh spoke in front of the parliament and made offensive, false, and insulting remarks against Israel. His use of extreme terminology is intolerable. Wanting to express support for the Palestinian rioters, he said that the Jews were “defiling Al-Aqsa Mosque.” This is a sharp terminology. In addition, 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 without delay invite the Jordanian ambassador to the Foreign Ministry for an equal reprimand. It must be made clear to him that Israel is a sovereign and independent country that can oversee its own public order. Jordan, for its part, is responsible for helping calm down the tensions, as promised by the 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 encountered similar difficulties, handled the matter with rare political wisdom. He understood that close relations with Israel were of the highest interest to the kingdom. In the past year, Israel has made a sincere effort to restore relations with Amman. It seems to have succeeded. The Jordanian prime minister’s remarks work against this trend. If a referendum is held on the feelings of the Israeli public toward Jordan’s conduct, I’m not sure that the king will be happy with the results. If this is the kingdom’s attitude toward the Palestinians, and such are the words of support for the Palestinians coming from a key figure as the prime minister, it should come as no surprise that there is a sizable 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 in relations caused by the Jordanian prime minister. The process of recovery in relations, which Israel and Jordan began about a year ago, must not be stopped. The prime minister’s remarks should be condemned. The king must curb the negative fervor of his prime minister and return quickly to cooperation for the benefit of both countries. –Yitzhak Levanon (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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