Israeli ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein was right when Haaretz quoted her last week saying that the political and economic situation in Jordan was difficult and worrying. Despite the fact that Jordan responded by saying that it did not need such a diagnosis and that its situation is stable, the truth is that the Jordanian monarchy is going through a very difficult and sensitive time economically and politically due to a contentious relationship between the economy and politics. This is reflected with respect to its relationship with Israel, whose greedy ambitions and provocations know no limits. This is because Israel has signed the Wadi Araba agreement and the normalisation process that contradicts with even the minimum level of relations built on mutual respect between countries. This normalisation is rejected by a large part of the Jordanian people and this popular rejection has grown given the occupation’s non-stop criminal acts against the Palestinian people and land, which are directly proportional to the worsening of the economic situation.
The law to silence the call to prayer, which was approved during its first reading in the Knesset, has poured gasoline on the flames of the popular anger. Preventing the call of prayer in Palestinian cities, especially Jerusalem, has historical symbolism and directly affects the feelings and faith of the Jordanian people. It also contradicts the Wadi Araba agreement and affects the status and prestige of the Jordanian people and leadership, given the fact that the Kingdom of Jordan is the official custodian of the sanctities in Jerusalem.
The Jordanian government cannot continue to remain silent in the face of the acts committed against the holy city that was under its custody until the June 1967 war, when the Arabs lost the city in a quick battle ending in favour of Israel. Prohibiting the call to prayer, talk of building a temple, demolitions, the expulsion of Palestinians from Jerusalem, and the expulsion of Arabs are all actions aiming to reduce the percentage of Arabs in the holy city from 28 per cent, currently, to 12 per cent by 2025.
In addition to the law banning the call to prayer, there has been much talk about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which means recognizing Jerusalem as part of Israel, not an occupied city. This would lead to more complications and tension, as well as pushing America’s friends into a corner and putting them in an even more awkward position.
All this and there are still voices from the right wing strongly declaring that the future state of Palestine belongs in east Jordan, and not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This means putting a red light in the face of the Hashemite Kingdom whose leadership knows that this extremist racist government will not hesitate to do anything that serves its ideology which says that the borders of the Israeli state are from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and that solution to the refugee issue is re-settling them wherever they are and not allowing any of them to return. The current general Arab situation and the presence of an American administration raising the banner of Islamophobia is encouraging Israel and they view this as an opportunity to achieve their dreams of a Jewish state from the Sea to the River where as little as possible Arabs live and where they will build the Temple Mount in place of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel’s successive governments were keen on keeping good secret and public relations with the Jordanian government, even at the most difficult times. However, the Jordanian leadership now feels that Bibi Netanyahu and his men no longer care about anyone but themselves, especially after the Egyptian president became their biggest ally and Syria was torn. This means that the Israelis feel an unprecedented level of superiority, strength, and arrogance since the establishment of Israel.
Pressure has pushed King Abdullah II to visit Washington in order to discuss this dangerous issue and it seems that King Abdullah II succeeded in convincing Donald Trump of the danger and sensitivity of this situation. He also convinced him that the situation would cause instability. It is clear that Trump understood King Abdullah II’s position, especially since there have been other calls coming in regarding concern about this issue. Therefore, Trump decided to freeze the process of moving the embassy and to wait for the American envoy to tour the region and form a joint vision in preparation to revive the negotiations.
The Jordanian predicament is worsened due to the predicament of the PA in Ramallah, as Netanyahu closed all the doors in their face which may have given the PA hope of resuming negotiations, albeit nominally. This means that there is a postponed explosion that is fast approaching in the West Bank, accompanied by threats to attack Gaza and rising anger in the territories occupied in 1948 due to the escalated demolition policy. The recent protests in Ramallah against the security coordination and the PA’s violent reaction to this suggests that the tension is on the verge of eruption and this will undoubtedly impact the Jordanian arena.
Israel’s extremist leadership left no room for the Jordanian government or the PA in Ramallah to maneuver, and day by day, the Israeli leadership is backing them into a corner of despair, which is considered breeding ground for violence and bloodshed.
Translated from Arab48, 14 March 2017
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.