A Jordanian expert is dismissing comments opposing the peace treaty with Israel by Jordanian House Speaker Atef Tarawneh, who has a history of making anti-Israel statements, calling it election propaganda.
“This is a kind of propaganda, the parliamentary elections in Jordan will take place within six months,” Dr. Abdullah Sawalha, director of the Amman-based Center for Israel Studies, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Unfortunately, the more hostile to Israel you are the more popular you become,” he added.
David Schenker, an expert on Jordan and director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Post
: “With 13.5 percent unemployment, 30% among the youth, 1.4 million Syrian refugees, a $2 billion deficit and an increasing threat of terrorism, you’d think the Jordanian parliament would have more important matters to deal with.”
The Jordanian parliament and other citizen groups often voice opposition to cooperation with Israel, but King Abdullah has ultimate control in the country.
Despite the fact that much of the Jordanian population sees Israel as the enemy, cooperation and people- to-people relations are quietly and slowly growing.
A second batch of 500 Jordanian day workers was recently approved for hotels in Eilat, and the government hopes to eventually reach 1,500 Jordanian workers in the Red Sea city.
Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) has been pushing for expanded relations with Israel’s neighbor, including a “Jordan Gateway” project, which would include a new bridge between Israel and Jordan as part of a shared industrial zone in the northern Jordan Valley.
Following a visit to Jordan, where he was on hand to promote the project, Kara revealed that the process to construct the bridge has begun, with tenders being issued for building.
“The final preparations to start the work are being made,” he told the Post earlier this month.
Tarawneh said the Jordanian parliament, which represents the people, adamantly disagrees with the government over the peace treaty with Israel.
In an interview with the London- based TV channel Al-Ghad on Thursday, Tarawneh commented about his decision to ban the participation of an Israeli delegation in the 2016 Women in Parliaments Global Forum that took place in Amman last week.
“The Jordanian parliament is an independent authority which represents the Jordanian people. Its opinion toward the peace treaty with Israel is different in essence from the government’s position,” he said.
“Israel does not respect the peace treaty it signed. When a Jordanian judge was killed by Israeli security forces, the Israeli Knesset did not take any measure to investigate the issue,” Tarawneh added.
However, an inquiry by Israeli security services found that Alaa el-Deen Za’eiter – a Nablus-born jurist and magistrate’s court judge in Jordan – shouted “Allahu akbar” while charging IDF soldiers at the Allenby Bridge crossing terminal in March 2014.
According to a joint probe by the IDF, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Za’eiter, who had Jordanian citizenship, attempted to snatch the rifle of one of the soldiers.
Feeling their lives to be in danger, the soldiers acted in accordance with the rules of engagement and fired at his legs.
Za’eiter then continued attacking the soldiers with a metal pole before he was shot again, this time dying from his wounds.
Investigators determined that the soldiers acted properly given that Za’eiter “posed a clear danger” to their lives.
The Jordanian parliament speaker rejected the participation of the Israeli women’s delegation in the international symposium because “the Israeli women did not express any opinion toward the racist laws the Israeli Knesset legislates.
“When Palestinian women are assassinated in cold blood at checkpoints, these Israeli women do not help them.
When we see that Israel is burning mosques and schools and killing innocent children, Israeli people and the Knesset should not expect me or any Jordanian citizen to hand roses to the Israeli parliamentary delegation on its way to the Jordanian parliament,” Tarawneh said.
Israel protested against Tarawneh’s decision and conveyed to Jordan its deep resentment over it.
Tarawneh has a history of anti-Israel rhetoric, including saying in 2014 that Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians was no worse than actions by Islamic State.
That same year, the Jordanian parliament paid respects by observing a minute of silence and reading verses from the Koran for the two Palestinian terrorists who murdered five Israelis and wounded others in an attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.