Why the King of Jordan Met with Israel’s Most Influential Arab Politician

Last month, Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Israeli-Arab party Ra’am, had an audience with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman, although the meeting only became public knowledge this week. Since June, the king has also met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog, while the two countries’ respective economic ministers met just last week. Ron Ben-Yishai explains what Abdullah stood to gain from his tête-à-tête with Abbas:

Abbas’s visit to Amman could work to strengthen U.S. support of Jordan while the kingdom is in desperate need of economic assistance from Washington and from Jerusalem. . . . But there may [also] be an internal Jordanian political motivation to the public meeting with Abbas. The palace has been facing mounting pressure over Jordan’s economic crisis. Last month’s report that the king had squirreled away $100 million in tax havens while his subjects are struggling to make ends meet has caused him a great embarrassment.

Abdullah’s main opposition comes from Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood; a photo opportunity with Abbas, an Islamist, could help defuse some of that tension. Jordan’s Bedouin tribes, devout Muslims themselves, are the main supporters of the palace but they too have much criticism of the king. The Ra’am party represents many Bedouin tribes in Israel who have family ties to tribes in Jordan; by honoring Abbas, Abdullah could hope to appease some of his critics.

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Israel diplomacy, Israeli Arabs, Jordan, Mansour Abbas

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf