Jordanian diplomat defends peace treaty with Israel

The US State Department praised the parties in light of the treaty's 25th anniversary.

US soldiers stand next to Jordanian flags as they take part in Exercise Eager Lion at one of the Jordanian military bases in Azraq, east of Amman, Jordan, April 26, 2018 (photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS)
US soldiers stand next to Jordanian flags as they take part in Exercise Eager Lion at one of the Jordanian military bases in Azraq, east of Amman, Jordan, April 26, 2018
(photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED/REUTERS)
Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Ahead of the anniversary, Jordanian diplomat Ziad Khazer al-Majali, who served as the kingdom's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Russia and Lebanon, defended the treaty, condemning those who attack it.

On October 25, the Jordanian government daily al-Rai published an article by al-Malaji, where he defended the treaty with Israel, complaining it was under constant attack in Jordan by former and current officials and members of the Jordanian parliament.

"When the conditions in the region became ripe, and there was an international desire for peace, we came, along with our brethren and based on an Arab decision, to the Madrid conference," he wrote. "Since some believed that each Arab side should resolve its problems [with Israel] separately, we reached a peace treaty after our [Palestinian] brothers west of the river had already attained the Oslo Accords."

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), amid concern over the Trump Administration's "Deal of the Century" and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promise to annex the Jordan Valley, Jordanian press has been characterized by hostility to Israel during the last year. Jordanian press, according to MEMRI, published numerous articles critical of Israel, calling to cancel the peace treaty with Israel and urging the Palestinians to start a new intifada.

Reminding the readers that King Hussein, who signed the treaty two and a half decades ago with late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, called the peace treaty a "gift" to the Jordanian people, al-Majali called upon the citizens of the Hashemite Kingdom to stand firm and not let "the proponents of the culture of aggression and hatred poison the atmosphere of moderation and love of peace that we enjoy."

"Attacking the Jordan-Israel peace treaty has become a refrain [in Jordan], which necessarily accompanies every move and election statement and most of the speeches and interviews given by former Jordanian officials, including senior ones," he said. "I respect the opinions of others and believe that people outside the state mechanisms have the right to [express] a differing or critical position on the law ratifying the peace treaty. I also lack the legal understanding to assess or explain why respectable former and current MPs attack a treaty that was approved by other respectable former MPs in the past and was officially recorded by the UN, as require by Article 102 of the organization's charter."

The US State Department published an official press statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, where he praised the two parties to the treaty. "Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel, an agreement that began a tradition of peaceful and respectful cooperation that continues today," he said. "We take this opportunity to praise the enduring efforts of our two allies and friends to find common ground and build a productive and stable relationship for the mutual benefit of the Jordanian and Israeli people."

Al-Majali, however, also said that "since the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, most Israeli leaders have not believed in the principles and the international resolutions that formed the basis for launching the peace efforts, especially UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, [and have not believed] in the Palestinian people's right to self-determination on its national soil."

The peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was recently the subject of debate in Israel, as in light of Netanyahu's recent announcements and the measures taken by his administration, the Jordanian parliament voted against extending the lease of the Naharayim Island of Peace and other areas leased to Israel by Jordan in 1994. 

Those lands are expected to be annexed by Jordan as a counter-measure to Israel's possible annexation of the Jordan Valley, as promised by Netanyahu ahead of the 2019 parliamentary election. An Israeli failure to evacuate the leased areas ahead of the lease's expiration would be a violation of the treaty, putting Israeli-Jordanian peace in danger as tensions rise in the region.