Middle East: Israel’s Prime Minister’s Secret Visit to Jordan’s King

The visit was kept secret for ten days, but this does not detract from its political significance: on 29 June, the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett traveled by helicopter to Jordan to meet King Abdullah II in the capital Amman. . The meeting was the first of its kind in three years at the palace.

As a visible consequence, Israel will double its water supply to Jordan, which will also benefit Palestinians in the West Bank. The agreement was announced on Thursday by Israeli Foreign Minister Jair Lapid and his Jordanian colleague Ayman Safadi, who previously met at the Allenby border crossing. Lapid said Israel would sell another 50 million cubic meters of water to Jordan. The two also agreed to increase Jordan’s exports to the West Bank from $160 million to $700 million. Along with the economic crisis, the state is also grappling with increasing water scarcity.

The meeting between Bennett and Abdullah was not confirmed by the prime minister’s office or the Jordanian court. Israeli media unanimously reported that Bennett personally informed King Abdullah that he would approve the water deal. The two also agreed to normalize talks between the two governments and leave behind the turmoil of the past few months.

Triggers of crisis: Donald Trump

Relations between the neighboring countries entered an open crisis in March after years of tension. Ultimately, the trigger was former US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plans and the policies of the recently ousted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With the approval of his friend at the White House, he announced that he would occupy the West Bank and parts of the strategically important Jordan Valley.

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While some Arab states supported the project and, for example, the United Arab Emirates normalized its relations with Israel, Jordan was heavily opposed – although after Egypt made peace with the Jewish state in 1994. The Hashemite Empire was the second Arab country. Jordan sees itself as representing the interests of the Palestinians. There are officially more than two million registered Palestinian refugees among the 11 million people in the kingdom. However, above all, a large proportion of Jordanians are descendants of Palestinians who immigrated between 1948 and 1967.

First, during a planned visit by Crown Prince Hussein to Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, some of his bodyguards were denied entry by Israeli security forces, after which the heir to the throne called off the visit. The Hashemite royal family is the third most important temple protectorate for Muslims after Mecca and Medina.

Back to the two-state solution

When Netanyahu wanted to fly to the United Arab Emirates from Amman a little later, Jordan refused to allow the Emirati plane to land. Netanyahu then closed Israeli airspace to Jordanian machines, regardless of the close security cooperation between the two states and without consulting his security cabinet, but revised the decision a little later.

Bennett’s visit to Jordan is clearly part of a restructuring of Israel’s foreign and regional policy. The prime minister had also tried to repair heavily burdened relations with the Palestinian Authority, but suffered a setback in the process: the COVID vaccine he offered was too close to its expiration date in the opinion of Palestinians. Israel has now brought him into an exchange deal with South Korea. Bennett has also ordered a review of Iran policy.

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In doing so, he is also reacting to a change in power in the United States and the fact that President Joe Biden seeks to revive the nuclear deal with Iran and, in the context of Middle East policy, the United States’ longstanding Turning to the position of support. Two-state solution. Like King Abdullah, Bennett is to be welcomed into the White House in July.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

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