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Jordan: ex-prime minister calls for end to ‘soft diplomacy’ with Israel

July 20, 2023 at 10:27 am

Former Prime Minister of Jordan Ali Abu Al-Ragheb. [Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP via Getty Images]

Former Prime Minister of Jordan Ali Abu Al-Ragheb has called for an end to the Hashemite Kingdom’s “soft diplomacy” approach towards Israel in order to suppress what he called the aspirations of the “ruling trinity” of the occupation state — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich — even if it leads to war.

Abu Al-Ragheb made his comment during a programme organised by the Amman Group for Future Dialogues titled “Developments of Events in the Occupied Territories and their Impact on Jordan”. His speech focused on the potential for Israel to continue its ethnic cleansing of occupied Palestine and forcibly displace Palestinians across the border into Jordan.

“We have to strengthen the structure of the home front, and prepare ourselves well for the upcoming challenges, whatever the results, and that diplomacy must be strong, not soft,” he said. “We will attack them if it reaches a war. The situation is not normal, but critical, and requires taking the highest degrees of caution, especially since we have nothing but our situation.”

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The extreme right-wing government in Israel must be reined-in, added the former official, if it goes ahead with the forced displacement of the Palestinians from the West Bank. “The US will not interfere if Israel takes unilateral steps against the Palestinians, which will result in a conflict with Jordan. It will only issue statements of condemnation using diplomatic language and proposals that will not lead to any result.” The same applies to the EU, he pointed out.

According to Abu Al-Ragheb, the Israeli move would give the Palestinians a choice between living within a Jewish state with incomplete civil and political rights, emigration or being killed for resisting the occupation. The Israeli extremists, he said, have already mentioned that displacement would be to Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Lebanon is outside this equation due to the presence of Hezbollah, and it is unlikely that the far-right coalition government will risk any open hostility with Egypt for several reasons, including the Egyptians’ military capabilities. “In Syria, the presence of Russian and Iranian forces and Hezbollah is an obstacle to Israel’s plans, so they only have Jordan left. It is possible that they will sacrifice the Wadi Araba agreement with Jordan to fulfil their aims.”

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Speaking hypothetically, he added, Israel will not hesitate to take the risk and displace the Palestinians to Jordan. “The occupation government knows the fluidity of the US-European position; there will be no real support for Jordan, except for its own strength and solid position, with the support of our Arab brothers.” He cited his belief that such support would come from Iraq, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Egypt in the material sense.” Moral support will come from all Arab and friendly countries around the world.

Given that Israeli actions are generally “reckless and carried out with disregard” for international legitimacy, UN Security Council resolutions and human rights, he suggested that Jordan should take pre-emptive and precautionary measures towards the extreme far-right coalition in Israel, through the Kingdom’s own relations with Arab and friendly countries.

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