Israel says Jordan is a 'strategic partner' in Mideast peacemaking.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFFIsrael sees Jordan as a "strategic partner" in efforts to attain peace with the Arabs, the Israeli Embassy said Tuesday on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the peace treaty between the two Mideast neighbors.
The Israeli Embassy issued a statement saying 2005 marked a "significant stage in deepening political dialogue and bilateral cooperation on all levels," including from meetings between top officials to cooperating on the fight against the spread of bird flu.
Trade ties also increased between both countries with Jordanian exports to Israel during eight months ending in August reaching US$42 million, 20 percent up on the same period in 2003. No figures were available for Israeli exports to Jordan.
Jordan, a moderate Arab nation and a key US Arab ally, became the second Arab state after Egypt to sign a peace treaty with Israel on Oct. 26, 1994. The move has been condemned by Jordanian Islamists, who routinely call on the government to scrap the peace deal.
Overall Israeli-Jordanian trade exchange reached US$185 million last year, a 41 percent jump over the US$131.2 million in 2003, the statement said.
The flourishing trade continued during the worsening cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the West Bank, Israeli Embassy Press Attache Jacob Raber told The Associated Press.
The rise was partly due to five Jordan-based complexes housing joint ventures with Israel and whose output target various Arab and Western countries, the statement said.
Products from the ventures are exempt from US quotas and tariffs - an American gesture to bolster peace between Israel and Jordan, which has a large Palestinian population.
Jordanian exports from the Qualified Industrial Zones that are scattered across Jordan jumped from US$13 million in 1999 to more than US$1 billion last year.
Last month, Jordan's King Abdullah II met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.
Jordan also returned its ambassador to Israel this year after lowering its diplomatic representation to the Jewish state in late 2000 to protest Israel's military response to the Palestinian uprising.
There also was closer Jordanian-Israeli cooperation in other sectors, including agriculture, water sharing and the environment, the statement added. A joint committee overseeing cooperation between both countries' southern Red Sea resorts met in 2005 for the first time in several years.
Other achievements included a trilateral agreement reached in May that includes the Palestinians to carry out a feasibility study next year on a major water project hoped to boost supplies.