Ties Between Peace Partners Jordan, Israel Seen as Improving

After years of strained relations between Jordan and Israel over the Palestinian issue, analysts say a new dynamic dominates their relationship with the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership and they point to some positive momentum. 

Jordanian political commentator Osama Al Sharif says that just a month after a new Israeli coalition government was formed in June, ending 12 years of Netanyahu rule, the two sides reached several initiatives helping to normalize relations.  

Their foreign ministers have concluded fresh deals on water and trade, he told the Jordan Times newspaper, whereby Jordan will buy an additional 50 million cubic meters of water as the kingdom battles a severe drought. This is besides the “30 million cubic meters Israel provides annually under the 1994 peace treaty,” noted Al Sharif. 

The Israelis “also agreed to increase Jordanian exports to the West Bank from $160 million to $700 million annually,” Al Sharif said. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Jordan “an important neighbor and partner,” saying Israel “will broaden economic cooperation for the good of the two countries.” 

King Abdullah, in a recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, said he met both Israeli and Palestinian leaders following the 11-day war with Gaza, which he called a “wake-up call” for both sides, urging a return to the negotiating table.  

“I think we have seen in the past couple of weeks, not only a better understanding between Israel and Jordan, but the voices coming out of both Israel and Palestine that we need to move forward and reset that relationship. This last war with Gaza, I thought was different. Since 1948, this is the first time I feel that a civil war happened in Israel. I think that was a wake-up call for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine to move along. God forbid, the next war is going to be even more damaging,” Abdullah said.

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told VOA that he shares the king’s concerns, if the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate continues and another war with Gaza were to erupt.

“As long as the U.S. remains committed to the two-state solution and talking to the Palestinian Authority, that’s to the minimal needs of the kingdom. It’s a frustrating situation because we know the status quo is not sustainable. Another round of violence like we saw earlier this year is only a matter of time,” Riedel said.  

Commentator Al Sharif also warns that “while ties with Israel can only improve after years of turbulence, trouble could be lurking ahead.” 

“Jordan cannot compromise on the two-state solution, nor can it accept Israeli actions” in East Jerusalem, he said, whether at the Al Aqsa Mosque or in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. 

Al Sharif warned that any future attacks on Jerusalem “will force the Jordanian monarch to react” as the custodian of the city’s Muslim and Christian holy sites. 

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