Articles > > A Rare Consensus

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-11-04
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

Tel Aviv's ruling elites in all their varying tendencies and inclinations have maintained a rare consensus on the need to preserve these relations both before and after the 1994 Wadi Araba Treaty [Jordan/Israel peace agreement], especially as regards security and strategy, based on a doctrine that views Jordan's security as integral to Israel's own.
That is no longer the case today. The 25th anniversary of the treaty's signing has coincided with a moment of severe crisis in these relations, in light of repeated [Israeli] violations of al-Aqsa and the holy sites under Hashemite custodianship, as well as the issue of Jordanian detainees (Heba al-Labadi, 'Abdelrahman Merhi, and others), and the Baqoura and Ghumar dossier [Jordanian lands leased to Israel] .
All of this has offered many Israelis from all sides the opportunity to offer their alternatives in the ongoing debate over the current state of relations between the two countries and their future. This debate has uncovered two perspectives:
The first is largely based on security concerns and maintains the previous position on Jordan as a 'strategic asset,' as Amos Gilad, Director of the Political-Military Affairs Bureau at Israel's Defense Ministry, has described it. This view is reinforced by the Israeli security establishment's view that the current levels of security coordination with the Jordanian authorities are still effective and have not been affected by the occasional problems that surface in these relations.
The second view reflects the right-wing camp's orientation across all its parties, MKs, journalists, and media – a camp that has ascended to a position of domination and influence and has expanded its reach across Israel's political partisan map. This camp minimizes the treaty's value and even challenges its significance and feasibility. It believes that Jordan has been 'ungrateful' by maintaining a hostile position towards Israel and pursuing it across all international forums even though Israel has restored land to it, provided it with water, and conceded its custodianship over the [Jerusalem Muslim] holy sites. This camp is skeptical of the strategic utility of 'security coordination' and 'the open channels of communication' between Amman and Tel Aviv.
The first camp seems to believe in the Palestinian and Jordanian tracks' interdependence. Amos Gilad fears for the Wadi Araba treaty and the future of Jordanian peace should Israeli policies lead to the PA's collapse. This camp thus appears to be at odds with the PM [Netanyahu] and right-wing camp's perspective, which wagers on separating the two tracks and insists it is possible to maintain peace with Jordan and Egypt and normalize relations with the Gulf states regardless of what is happening on the Palestinian track.
The second camp believes that the lesson learnt from the peace treaty with Jordan and the latter's ungratefulness for everything that Israel has offered in return is that the Hebrew state must not offer anything in exchange for peace or normalization with the Gulf states. These countries must accept a peace-for-peace formula, since Israel is the only one capable of lending a helping hand in their conflict with the 'common enemy', Iran.
Israel is changing, but so are we. They do not want a land-for-peace exchange, but we will not accept anything less. They want to separate the Jordanian and Palestinian tracks, while we continue to talk about their interdependence and interconnectedness. They raise the banner of hostility towards Palestine and Jordan alike, but we will not hesitate to fight this battle till the end.
"Israel should not give much consideration to the positions of the fearful and trembling amongst us, as they are a minority incapable of convincing their own spouses and children of their positions.