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Tribal anger over appointment of new Jordanian ambassador to Tel-Aviv

February 17, 2014 at 11:19 pm

On Tuesday, media sources reported that the prominent Jordanian tribe, A-Obeidat , has vowed to disown one of its own – the diplomat Walid A-Obeidat, should he agree to take up his new appointment as ambassador to Tel-Aviv.

After three years of diplomatic boycott between Jordan and Israel, Amman has decided to appoint a new ambassador to Tel-Aviv. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry has chosen the diplomat Walid A-Obeidat, who is scheduled to assume his new position in the 17th of this month.

Diplomatic relations between Amman and Tel-Aviv came to a standstill during Israel’s 2008/2009 assault on the Gaza Strip dubbed ‘Operation Cast Lead’.

Sources from the Foreign Ministry said that A-Obeidat  is being severely embarrassment by his tribe’s stance towards his new appointment. The London based newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, describes him as being subject to “a double embarrassment”- by the Foreign Ministry and by his family.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi quoted Jordanian officials as saying that if A-Obeidat  complied with pressure from his family, it would be an unprecedented incident whereby tribes could disobey decisions made by the state. “It is an unprecedented test of the strength of tribal adherence,”the newspaper reported officials saying.

The A-Obeidat  tribe is the biggest and most influential tribe in northern Jordan with huge influence on the political balance.

Following the Foreign Ministry’s announcement of its decision to assign an ambassador to Tel Aviv, the tribe issued a statement stating that the “Al-Obiadat tribe will disown its son, Walid A-Obeidat, if he agrees to take the position of Amman’s ambassador to Tel-Aviv.”

The tribe, which is led by the ex-Prime Minister, Ahmed A-Obeidat , held three days of discussions over the issue before coming to this decision; a decision supported by the overwhelming majority of the tribe. “The decision to assign one of our sons as an ambassador to Tel-Aviv challenges the historical stance of the tribe which opposes normalising relations with the Israelis,” the statement said.

The statement also added: “The person who accepts this position will violate prohibitions and tribal red lines. Therefore, the tribe is going to disown him.” The statement pointed out that the Israelis “stole the land, killed Palestinians and displaced them and desecrated the Islamic holy places.”
Over the last three days, the Jordanian government has faced a critical situation as a result of the tribe’s position.

Several Jordanian diplomats have taken up the same position in the past without any kind of protest.

Jordanian diplomacy is taking the issue seriously as it reflects the extent to which tribal stances are opposed to normalising relations and exchanging diplomats with Israel.