A cold peace

Just this week, Atef Tarawneh, speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives, said that the peace treaty is “under threat” due to what he called Israeli actions in Jerusalem.

Children play football at the Roman Amphitheatre area in downtown Amman, Jordan April 1, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)
Children play football at the Roman Amphitheatre area in downtown Amman, Jordan April 1, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)
Nearly 25 years ago, on October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan concluded a historic peace treaty in a ceremony at the Arava southern border crossing. The second peace accord reached by the Jewish state and an Arab country following Egypt was signed by the Israeli and Jordanian prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Abdelsalam al-Majali, and witnessed by US president Bill Clinton in the presence of president Ezer Weizman, Jordan’s King Hussein and US secretary of state Warren Christopher.
The treaty remains as solid as ever, with close security cooperation between the two countries, but official relations between Israel and Jordan have cooled over the years, filtering down from their leadership to the two peoples themselves. The Jordanians are angry at Israel, for a number of reasons. This needs to change, at all levels, and the sooner the better for both countries.
The 1994 treaty established peace, mutual recognition and full diplomatic ties between Israel and Jordan, adjusted territorial and water disputes, and provided for broad cooperation in trade, tourism and security including a pledge that neither country would allow its territory to become a staging ground for military strikes by a third party. It also stated that “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem” – especially al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Israel has done exactly that, but it hasn’t stopped Jordan over the years from making false claims to the contrary. Just this week, Atef Tarawneh, speaker of the Jordanian House of Representatives, said that the peace treaty is “under threat” due to what he called Israeli actions in Jerusalem that undermine Jordanian and Palestinian authority on the Temple Mount.
“We in Jordan, who are signatory to a peace treaty with the Israeli occupation government, see today that this peace is under threat, in light of the blatant violation of its terms, especially with the issue of Jerusalem,” Tarawneh told an Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Belgrade, while also urging the world to pressure Israel “to stop its tyranny and brutal practices in the Palestinian territories.”
There are other issues that are also contributing to the tension between the countries. The large Palestinian population in Jordan, the presence of a powerful Muslim Brotherhood, and the government’s refusal to fight against the anti-normalization campaign all contribute to a cold peace.
There is also the issue of the Jordan Gateway Bridge, inaugurated in February by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and slated to serve a long-promised, joint Israeli-Jordanian industrial zone. But the whole project has been frozen, partially because Israel has not approved funding for an access road to get there.
The Jordanian frustration reached a peak last year when King Abdullah informed Israel that he would not renew two annexes of the 1994 treaty concerning agricultural land leased to Israel at Tzofar, north of Eilat, and Naharayim, near the Kinneret.
Israel has been engaged in ongoing talks with Jordan to persuade the king to change his mind, and on Wednesday it seemed that a new deal may have been reached. Either way, though, the uncertainty surrounding Naharayim is just another manifestation of the unhealthy relationship today between Israel and Jordan.
To enhance Israeli-Jordanian peace it is important that both Jerusalem and Amman work to forge better ties between the peoples and not just the nations’ security organizations. Abdullah should do more to stop the anti-normalization campaign in Jordan that pressures businesses to stay away from doing trade with Israel. Both countries need to abide by previous agreements and work together to ensure their continued success.
As tensions rise in the Middle East over Iran’s nuclear program and Turkey’s invasion of Syria and its military action against the Kurds, Israel needs to shore up its peace pacts with its two key allies in the region: Egypt and Jordan. It is in the interest of all three countries to work closer together to show the world, and especially this region, what peace can look like and how it can effect positive change for all people.


Tags Jordan Peace