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Hundreds of Jordanians protest Israel peace deal
By JPOST.COM STAFF
04/05/2012
Demonstrators burn Israeli flags, call for reforms; protest comes after new PM says he would sign peace deal with Israel again.
 
Hundreds of Jordanians burned Israeli and US flags in Amman on Friday and called for the cancellation of the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty.

Anti-Israel sentiment surfaced following Friday prayers during a demonstration against the newly sworn-in government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Tarawneh.

Jordan’s King Abdullah swore in the government, dominated by conservatives, on Wednesday and tasked it with preparing parliamentary elections expected later this year.

Islamists and youth activists said the march came in response to remarks by Tarawneh, who played a key role in the Israeli-Jordanian peace process, that if given a second chance, he would still support signing the agreement, The Jordan Times reported.

“This treaty has only legitimized Zionists’ illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and has opened the door to official attempts to encourage other Arab and Muslim states to recognize Israel,” the newspaper quoted Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu Baker as saying on Thursday.

Protesters on Friday also called for comprehensive reform and an elected government rather than an appointed cabinet.

Tarawneh’s government was installed after the surprise resignation last week of his predecessor, Awn Khasawneh, a former judge on the International Court of Justice, in a move politicians attributed to a power struggle with the security services.

During his six months in office, Khasawneh tried to persuade the Islamist opposition to drop its boycott of elections, which they say are unfair because the rules favor rural Beduin areas over Islamists’ urban, predominantly Palestinian, strongholds.

His departure makes it less likely the Islamists will come in from the cold, analysts say.

Abdullah appointed Tarawneh, a US-educated politician who has previously held several senior government posts, on Thursday and asked him to speed up political reforms that the monarch said Khasawneh had dragged his feet on.

Politicians say Khasawneh had been entangled in a struggle over prerogatives with the intelligence services, or mukhabarat. The powerful mukhabarat was said to be unhappy with Khasawneh’s handling of a major anti-corruption campaign that resulted in many judicial probes against senior officials.

Khasawneh also proposed electoral reform that drew fire from many sides. Beduin lawmakers felt it favored Islamists, while some Islamists were unhappy because its proposed party list system might have curbed the number of seats they could win.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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