Jordan’s Growing Belligerence toward Israel

Jan. 20 2023

Since the signing of the 1994 peace treaty, there have been comparatively good relations between Amman and Jerusalem. Jordan depends heavily on the IDF to maintain its security, and Israel views any threat to the kingdom’s sovereignty as a threat to itself. But in recent years the relationship has become increasingly frosty, and since 2020 King Abdullah has worried that, in the event of a Saudi-Israeli peace agreement, the house of Saud will usurp his own dynasty’s special status as guarantor of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. Yoni Ben Menachem comments:

King Abdullah’s immediate strategy is to isolate the new government in Israel and to present it to the world as a racist, apartheid government. He coordinates in this matter with the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and supports all Palestinian moves against Israel in the UN arena and at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The king has complete support in the Jordanian parliament for this strategy, He is furthermore influenced by the opposition Islamic Action Front, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, which also exerts pressure on him because of the difficult economic situation in Jordan and the increase in fuel and food prices.

Relatedly, the king also focuses on the Palestinian issue to divert the attention of the Jordanian street from Jordan’s difficult economic problems.

What should be of considerable concern to Israel is the King’s intention to put a wedge between Israel and the Arab countries with which it has peace and normalization agreements and to try and isolate it. Jordan did not participate in the second gathering of the Negev Forum, [made up of Israel, the U.S., and several friendly Arab states], that took place on January 9, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, despite requests from the United States and the other countries that are members of the forum.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Jordan

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy