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.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Jordan


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