Israel is increasingly reluctant to lobby on behalf of the Jordanians in Washington because of Amman’s continued refusal to send its ambassador back to Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
With the prevalent atmosphere in Washington being to cut aid, Israel has in the recent past “put in a good word” on behalf of continued assistance to the Jordanians, something officials said is more difficult now because of the Jordanian refusal to return its ambassador.
The US provides Jordan with some $660 million in aid per year, the result of a five-year agreement signed toward the end of 2008, and running through fiscal year 2014.
The Post has learned that when congressmen interested in cutting budgets query Israel about the status of the Jordanian- Israel relationship, the answer is increasingly that while the intelligence and security relationship is good, the lack of a Jordanian ambassador – a concrete symbol of normal relations between two countries at peace – is not a good sign.
Egypt, the only other Arab country with whom Israel has formal ties, does have an ambassador in Tel Aviv.
The Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv has been without an ambassador for nearly two years, since King Abdullah II appointed Ali Al-Ayed, the former envoy, as Jordan’s minister of media affairs and communications in July 2010. Amman never named a replacement.
According to government officials, while the Jordanians are willing to continue to have close intelligence and security ties with Israel, they are reluctant to do anything public. One sign of that reluctance to any public cooperation is the difficulty in coming to an agreement with the Jordanians on building the Mugrabi Bridge linking the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount.
Israel’s increasing hesitance to go to bat for Jordan in Washington is a shift from a few months ago, when diplomatic officials sounded more understanding when they told the Post that while Israel would like to see Jordan return its ambassador, it understood such a move was unlikely because of Amman’s concern that this could complicate matters domestically for the king.