Jordan’s Withdrawal from Part of Its Treaty with Israel Is a Concession to Public Opinion

October 24, 2018 | Eyal Zisser
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On Sunday, King Abdullah of Jordan declared his intention to allow Israel’s lease of two small agricultural areas of Jordanian territory to expire. The lease had been agreed upon in an annex to the 1994 peace treaty between Jerusalem and Amman. To Eyal Zisser, the king’s decision is a sign of his own domestic weakness:

The Jordanian announcement is neither a big surprise ‎nor a move that has far-reaching strategic ‎significance. After all, these are Jordanian ‎lands. . . . The problem, therefore, is not in the move per se, ‎but in the manner and timing in which the Jordanians ‎chose to declare they were essentially disavowing ‎the spirit of the 1994 peace agreement and turning ‎their backs on the partnership forged between then-Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin ‎and then-King Hussein.‎

This was not a complete surprise. After all, the ‎Jordanian public is very hostile toward Israel compared ‎to populations in other Arab countries ‎and, regrettably, the Jordanian regime does not even ‎try to deal with this hostility. Facing a myriad of domestic ‎challenges, the regime prefers to allow public opinion to lash ‎out at Israel and hopes this will soften the ‎criticism leveled at it on other issues.‎

At the same time, no Arab country is as dependent on Israel as Jordan, certainly in ‎terms of energy and water resources and on issues ‎of national security. ‎. . . Overall, [ending the lease] is not a move that truly harms ‎Israel’s interest, which is why Jerusalem shows ‎patience toward the hostile winds that are blowing ‎in its direction from Jordan. ‎Nevertheless, the Jordanian move is as much a show ‎of Abdullah’s weakness as signing the peace ‎deal was a show of his father’s strength.

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