The tense situation created in the kingdom has its effect on relations

7 m.   |  2019-01-16

The internal crisis has been ripening in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 2011, for the first time after the Arabian spring events. In June 2018, Prime Minister Hani Mulki and his party resigned as a result of the government’s harsh economic policy and anti-inflation protests. In turn economist Omar Razzaz was appointed as Prime Minister. Nevertheless it didn’t calm the situation down. On October 18 2018, another protest took place, during which protesters demanded economic and constitutional reforms and to establish a parliamentary democracy. Other demands where to eliminate corruption, to restore Jordan’s sovereignty in the areas which were leased to Israel for 25 years and to denounce the Peace Agreement with Israel signed in 1994.

O n October 21 2018 King Abdullah the 2nd of Jordan announced that he wouldn’t withdraw from the treaty with Israel with which the Al Bakura and Al-Hamra regions were leased to Israel for 25 years. Over 90 MPs of the Jordanian Parliament signed a similar document to support the withdrawal of the treaty. Chances are Israel will most likely compromise in negotiations as they do not want to destabilize a situation with a neighboring country with whom it has a sphere of cooperation in the security field.

On October 26 1994, diplomatic relations were established between the 2 countries with a Peace Treaty. Jordan became the 2nd Arabic country after Egypt to recognize the State of Israel. Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Abdelsalam al-Majali signed the treaty, which was followed by the handshake of the President of Israel Ezer Weizman and King Hussein. U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher attended the ceremony.

The treaty consists of 30 articles, 5 annexes and a protocol. It regulates territorial, security and water issues, and the borders between the two countries which are determined by the Jordan River.

Israel and Jordan should respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and should jointly fight against terrorism. According to the treaty two countries are obliged to ensure security of the borders and to prevent the penetration of terrorist groups and smuggling.

Two countries also pledged to cooperate to relieve refugees’ problems. According to the treaty’s annex, Jordanian territories Al Baqoura and Al Ghumar are leased to Israel for 25 years, with a possibility of a extended 25 years if one of the parties fails to provide a notice of termination before the expiration of a period of one year.

Signing of the Israel and Jordan Treaty of Peace, 1994

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel reacted calmly to the announcement of Hashemite Kingdom, stating that the relations with Jordan are strong. “We will go into negotiations with them on the option of extending the existing agreement. There's no doubt that in a general outlook, the entire treaty is a valuable asset, important to both countries. In addition, we're expanding ties with other Arab countries for whom the State of Israel is not an enemy”-mentioned Netanyahu.

Jordan officially received the proposal to start negotiations on November 5. However it announced, that it would not discuss the issue on the annexed territories and would negotiate only on the cancellation details.

Not everyone shares Netanyahu’s position on solving the problem with Jordan with negotiations although the “loss” of these fertile settlements is not detrimental for the Jewish state, other members of parliament still think differently.  Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Arel,was clear that punitive steps need to be taken to reduce the freque ncy of water supplies to Jordan “I call on Netanyahu to explain to Jordan’s King that Jordan needs Israel more than Israel does”, said Arel.

Local farmers are also dissatisfied with the Official response of Israel. Al Baqoura in the north and Al Ghumar in the south of the Dead Sea are water-rich regions, where people grow melons, peppers, tomatoes and other agricultural products for export. The Yarmook and the Jordan Rivers are crossed in Al Baqoura, providing water supply of vital significance.

Currently, to destroy relationships with neighboring Arabic countries is not in the interest of Israel, that’s why Israel didn’t punish Jordan after the latest war between the two, but suggested the implementation of “the Red Sea-Dead Sea project.

T he  Red Sea-Dead Sea project envisages to transport water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, which will provide Israel, Jordan and Palestine with drinking water. On December 9 2013 these three countries signed an agreement on laying a water pipeline, which hasn’t eventuated because of bureaucratic obstacles, financial problems and tensions between Israel and Jordan.

More recently, the implementation of the project costing 10 billion dollars was frozen by Israel, when in July 2018 two Jordan citizens were killed in a shooting by an Israeli security guard.

On November 21 2018 it became known that Jordanian officials negotiated with the Israeli representatives of the Water Coalition Committee in the Kinneret on increasing the water supply volume. According to the deal, Israel is obliged to supply Jordan with 10 million cubic meters of water, and the volume will increase if necessary.

Old Conflicts

I t is worth mentioning, that the relationships between the two countries have been strained from time to time. In 1996, Netanyahu announced about expanding of Israeli settlements in the West Bank on the Jordan River as well as in the Gaza Strip. The Prime Minister of Israel also announced that an underground tunnel construction will be taking place in the Holly settlements of Jerusalem, on the Temple Mountain. This caused a tense relationship between the two countries. Yasser Arafat, autonomous Palestine’s leader announced that Israelis are planning to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque to build their temple in its place. The point is that in 1994, Jordan assumed Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites custody under the Treaty of Peace.

The second strain on relations  was in September 1997, when Israeli secret service (Mosad) had an unsuccessful attempt in assassinating Khaled Mashal a Jordanian citizen and Hamas Islamic organization’s leader. 2014 was one of the most tense periods of the Jordan-Israel relations, when Israeli Police closed the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque to Muslim worshipers.

Another case was recorded in 2014, at a checkpoint while checking documents at the Alenby Bridge Border crossing.

Another incident was recorded in July 2017, when two Jordannian citizens were killed in a shooting by an Israeli embassy security guard, the furniture maker working at the ambassador’ house at that time, attacked the security guard with a knife as well as the owner of the house. Due to this the Israeli embassy in Amman was closed till January 2018, relations settled only after Israel’s official apology.

The official Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the embassy to Jerusalem has a negative impact on Jordan-Israel relations. As a response, in December 2017, the Jordanian Parliament approved a proposal that would establish a committee to reevaluate formal ties with Israel. The relations between the two countries seemed to settle again in June 2018, when Netanyahu and Abdullah the 2nd met in Amman after a four-year break.

2019 won’t be easy for Jordanian authorities, as the protests continue in the Kingdom. Although Abdullah the 2nd step gained a positive response by both among ordinary citizens and parliamentarians,.The adoption of a new tax bill by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November caused the Jordanians dissatisfaction. The people again demanded the resignation of the government. According to the bill, taxes will rise sharply while reducing the state debt of 40 billion dollars and restoring the economy, which will have its negative influence not only on the ordinary citizens, but also on the government.