Articles > > An Extraordinary Decision

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-12-03
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

The first Israeli to stand trial in Jordan since the [1994 Wadi Araba Israel/Jordan] treaty over a quarter century ago represents an extraordinary decision in its timing and the nature of the accused.
The era of flexibility and leniency is over, never to return, God willing, and what goes around comes around. Israel arrests Jordanians entering through the border checkpoints after obtaining the requisite visas and permits, so why not extend similar treatment to the infiltrator who entered stealthily, broke the law, and brought in banned substances?
The proceedings are unremarkable in form, but they are anything but in both content and timing. Israel is accustomed to drawing a halo around its Jewish citizens' heads, but the Jordanian judiciary has wrenched this halo away, as the peace treaty does not accord them the right to preferential treatment, and those who break the law must face the consequences. In the best-case scenario, we will no longer have to deal with any more Israelis, law-abiders and breakers alike in the coming days.
In terms of timing, the trial coincides with a peak crisis in Jordanian-Israeli bilateral relations. Had it not been for this deterioration, Jordan may not have dealt with the Israeli infiltrator in this manner. The trial is expected to pour oil over the coals hidden under the ashes.
As the gavel came down against the accused Israeli, Jordan's armed forces were conducting a military exercise under the heavily suggestive title Sword of Karamah [Dignity]. The name alone [that recalls the 1968 battle of Karamah in which Jordanian forces inflicted heavy casualties on an Israeli military incursion across the River Jordan] points to the objectives of the exercise, which simulates a foreign attack on Jordanian soil, openly broadcasting what has always been whispered behind closed doors in terms of the army's doctrine in the wake of the peace treaty: Israel was, and remains, the enemy.

We do not want to get lost in speculation or go as far as to celebrate the imminent end of the Wadi Araba track, but Jordan quite clearly seems to have decided to end the era in which it has always been taken for granted, with its decisions known in advance and its reactions constrained under a low ceiling. This has encouraged Israel to perpetuate its disregard for Jordanian feelings, rights, and interests: From Judge Ra'ed Zuaiter's martyrdom [shot by Israeli troops at the Allenby Bridge in 2014] to the crime [2017 shooting of two Jordanian citizens] at the Israeli embassy in [Amman neighborhood] Rabieh, to targeting Hashemite custodianship over Jerusalem's Muslim and Christian holy sites.
Israel has built its policies towards Jordan on the premise that peace with it is a one-way street, no matter what happens on the West Bank of the Jordan. Israel has adopted this notion of separate [Palestinian and Israeli] tracks ever since the [1991] Madrid Conference, in the belief that it can single out the Palestinians for abuse and coopt their rights with no fear of any adverse effect on its peaceful relations with Jordan and Egypt, and its normalization with some Arab countries.
Jordan, on the other hand, stands for the notion of interdependent Jordanian and Palestinian tracks at least, as the road to peace with Israel is a two-way street. It is always possible to make a U-turn, and the ball is in Israel's court. Since the treaty, King 'Abdullah has already made it clear that Israeli-Jordanian peace will inevitably be affected by the course of developments in the occupied Palestinian territories, and he has followed this up by noting that Jordan's relations with Israel are at their worst yet.
The new Jordanian approach to dealing with issues surrounding the conflict and dispute with Israel need to be sustained and reinforced, leaving the other side with no room for doubt that we are very serious in what we say and do.