Jordan FM lashes out as Israel moves to repair relationship

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to minimize the incident on Saturday night.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addresses the press in Amman, Jordan, July 2, 2018. (photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED / REUTERS)
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addresses the press in Amman, Jordan, July 2, 2018.
(photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED / REUTERS)
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi blamed Israel for the current diplomatic tensions between the neighboring states, as Israel moved to douse the flames and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night sought to minimize the impact of an incident that brought about the spat.
“There was a mishap with the Jordanians, because of a visit – the lack of a visit of the crown prince to the Temple Mount, but it was worked out,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Channel 13.
The remarks came two days after Jordan refused permission to Netanyahu’s planned flight to the United Arab Emirates to entering its airspace.
Within several hours, the Prime Minister’s Office said Jordan was willing to allow the flight to fly through its airspace, but Netanyahu and UAE leader, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had already agreed to postpone the visit.
Netanyahu said on Saturday that another UAE visit will happen “soon, it won’t take months.”
Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah had planned to visit al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount on Wednesday, on the occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj, the Islamic holy day marking the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and then his ascent to heaven.
The visit had been coordinated with Israel, but the prince arrived at the border with more armed guards than had been agreed upon, according to the Israeli side. The Jordanians argued that Israel changed its conditions for the visit and the additional guards were not permitted to accompany Hussein in Israel, and he canceled his visit.
On Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Israel would allow the return of 700 Jordanian workers to hotels in Eilat, after COVID-19 restrictions forced them to remain outside the country. The Jordanian workers will have to undergo coronavirus tests upon entry, and quarantine according to the Health Ministry’s instructions.
Israel will also begin to allow diplomats to enter from Jordan through the Allenby Crossing, and from Egypt, through Taba.
“Israel is interested in a positive and productive relationship with Jordan,” a senior official said about the Prime Minister’s Office announcement of the goodwill steps.
Safadi, however, placed the onus for the diplomatic dispute on Israel in an interview with CNN.
“What happened simply is that his royal highness wanted to say his prayers at al-Aqsa mosque on the holy occasion for Muslims… It was a religious visit to al-Aqsa and some of the churches in Jerusalem as well,” he said. “We had made arrangements with Israel in regard to getting to al-Aqsa, last minute Israel reneged on those agreements… and they also violated the freedom of worship.”
 Safadi said Jordan was “unhappy and angry” about the incident, and that the prince’s “religious visit for worship… was disrupted by Israeli measures that we do not understand and do not accept.”
Asked why Jordan blocked Netanyahu from flying to the UAE, Safadi replied: “When you renege on an agreement with Jordan, you disrupt a religious visit… then you expect to come to Jordan and fly out of Jordan? Let’s be serious here… This [question] should really be addressed to Israel as to why.”
Netanyahu had not planned to fly out of Jordan; rather, his flight would have crossed over Jordanian airspace.