Jordan Shares Much of the Blame for Its Rocky Relations with Israel

March 15 2021

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu canceled what was supposed to be a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates. The prime minister officially changed his plans because Jordan delayed granting permission to use its airspace for his flight, but there has also been speculation that other factors were at play. Nevertheless, the poor state of relations between Jerusalem and Amman is undeniable. While it has a variety of causes, Herb Keinon argues that Jordan’s King Abdullah bears a great deal of responsibility:

[I]t is Abdullah who has reportedly refused to take calls from the prime minister for four years now; it is Abdullah who insisted on the return of Naharayim and Tzofar, [two border villages leased to Israel in the 1994 peace treaty]; and it is Abdullah who has refused U.S. requests to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, one of the masterminds of the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001 that killed fifteen, including two American citizens, and wounded 122.

Most of all, it is Abdullah who has done next to nothing during his more than two decades on the throne to promote people-to-people ties with Israel. Sure, he wants Israeli security, intelligence, and water assistance, but he does nothing when Jordanian labor unions call for a boycott of Israel, and paint a picture of an Israeli flag on the floor of their headquarters in Amman to be used as a mat. The 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty never filtered down to the people of Jordan, and Abdullah bears much of the responsibility for that.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel diplomacy, Jordan, King Abdullah, Palestinian terror, United Arab Emirates

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount