Ex-Mossad chief: Security should make plans to deal with alternatives in Jordan

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy's comments came less than 24-hours after Abdullah devoted more than half of his eight-minute address at the UN to chastising Israel.

September 26, 2019 10:12
3 minute read.
JORDAN’S KING Abdullah reviews the honour guard before the opening of the second ordinary session of

JORDAN’S KING Abdullah reviews the honour guard before the opening of the second ordinary session of 17th Session of Parliament in Amman IN 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel should be lobbying in Washington on Jordan’s behalf on one hand, and on the other hand the security branches should be drawing up plans to deal with various alternatives in the Hashemite Kingdom, former Mossad head Efraim Halevy said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an Institute for National Security Studies conference on Israel-Jordanian relations in Tel Aviv as the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty between the two countries approaches next month, Halevy said that “Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first rate Israeli security and strategic interest.”

He added that Jordan’s stability and prosperity is a critical Israeli interest. Halevy – who developed a close relationship with King Hussein – said that Israeli officials need to impress on the US that this is an “Israeli interest, not a Jordanian one, and it is different from ties with the other countries surrounding us.” He recommended sending officials at the highest levels to the US to discuss this matter, saying it is “something that needs immediate action.”

Halevy’s comments came less than 24 hours after Abdullah devoted more than half of his eight-minute address at the UN to chastising Israel.

Referring back to September 1970, when Israel – at the urging of Yitzhak Rabin, then the new ambassador to Washington – moved troops “and did other things” to support Hussein in putting down the PLO in Jordan, Halevy said that Rabin pressured Jerusalem not to stay passive in the light of the events that were taking place in Jordan, “but take actions – significant ones – to illustrate Israeli concerns and intentions.”

Halevy said that this needs to be something at the top of Israel’s strategic agenda and that there is a need for the IDF, the National Security Council and the Mossad to “urgently” draw up “a specific strategy regarding possible alternatives about what will happen in Jordan.”

In another session at the conference entitled “Why has the peace not warmed up?” Reuven Azar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser, said that there is a major dichotomy in the relationship between the common strategic interests between the two countries on the one hand, and major gaps on the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem on the other. Close security and diplomatic dialogues, he said, help to reduce those gaps.

Azar, who stressed that he was speaking for himself and  representing neither the views of Netanyahu or the National Security Council, where he is the head of the foreign policy division, noted that in the last decade Israel’s economy has taken off, making doing business with Jordan less important for Israeli business people than it once.

Previously, he said, the conventional wisdom was that Israel’s economy would not flourish without a peace deal with the Palestinians that would open up markets in the Arab world. But, he pointed out, the economy grew even without an agreement with the Palestinians, and Israel’s economy is “no longer dependent on normalization as it once was.”

This means there is today a need to mobilize business people to get involved with Jordan. “There is not a great interest” among business people, he said.

Azar, who came to the NSC from the Foreign Ministry and served previously in Amman, Cairo and Washington, said that American perceptions have also changed.

In years past, he said, everything that happened between Israel and Jordan, or between Israel and Egypt, was of great interest in Washington, particularly in the State Department and Congress. Whenever problems would arise, the US would step in and try to help solve them.

Now, he said, the “real problems” in the Middle East are much bigger, and the American attitude is one of “you are now big children, deal with it yourselves.” According to Azar, “If we were used to the Americans coming and bridging things, that is no longer the case.”

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