Analysis: Despite harsh rhetoric from officials in Amman, intelligence and security cooperation between the two nations remains stable; King Abdullah II lets anti-Israel protesters let out steam, but only he can decide the fate of the peace deal

The uneasy remarks by Jordan’s prime minister on Monday were heard loud and clear in Jerusalem.

“I suggest to every Palestinian and every member of the Islamic endowment, the Waqf, to pick up stones and hurl them at the Zionists,” Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh told the parliament in Amman on Monday.

Prime Minister of Jordan Bisher al-Khasawneh
Prime Minister of Jordan Bisher al-Khasawneh (Photo: AFP)


“Israel is attempting to change the status quo on Temple Mount… and this is a serious escalation,” he said, adding that Israel will bear responsibility for more violence.

I have known Al-Khasawneh for years, and he always gave the impression of being a well-read, open minded and kind man, even after assuming office last year.

His statements condemning Israel on Monday, therefor, raised some eyebrows in Jerusalem. But officials, even those who were most critical of Jordan, conceded that Amman was in a precarious position.

The riots on Temple Mount came as King Abdullah II was recovering from a complicated back surgery at a hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. His son, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, was filling his place for the first time.

לפסטינים מניפים דגלי חמאס בהר הבית
Palestinian protesters on Temple Mount last Friday (Photo: AP)


Jordan is charged with responsibility over the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi, who is also the foreign minister, summoned the Israeli ambassador to convey Jordan’s condemnation of Israel’s police actions at the compound since the start of the riots.

But, the ambassador was in Israel and his deputy went in his place. Thus the two men, both belonging to the Druze community, held a serious discussion about the site most holy to Muslims.

His comments were harsh as he demanded Israel take action to calm the situation down, and when he addressed Jordan’s parliament, he refrained from referencing his and the Israeli envoy’s Druze origins.

שר החוץ של ירדן איימן ספדי
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (Photo: AP)


As reports of the riots reached the palace, they were quickly forwarded to Frankfurt and a decision was made to allow Palestinians to demonstrate on the streets of Jordan, in order to let out steam.

Letting out steam was also allowed in parliament when 76 out of the 180-member legislative body voted to cancel the peace treaty with Israel and to recall Jordan’s ambassador to Israel. A second parliamentary vote saw 87 legislators vote in favor of ousting the Israeli ambassador.

Local media filled its airtime and pages with anti-Israel slogans.

But, the fate of the peace agreement and that of the Israeli ambassador, is not to be decided by parliament. Only the king can decide and he, as can be gathered from reading between the lines of Jordan’s official letter, is not inclined to act on it, certainly not while Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is in power.

הרצוג בארמונו של עבדאללה מלך ירדן
President Issac Herzog and King Abdullah II of Jordan (Photo: GPO)


Jordan’s leader knows the relations with Israel – on intelligence matters – are great, and the security cooperation between the two states remains stable.

Jordan receives water from Israel, in a greater quantity than the peace deal dictates and Israel has made it clear that it would allow the free flow of goods from the kingdom into the Palestinian Authority.

The palace in Amman has two more reasons to allow public pressure to be released under controlled circumstances. The king is still contending with the repercussions of his half-brother and former crown prince, Prince Hamzah’s plot to take power, with the help of “foreign actors”.

He is also dealing with image problems after recent leaked documents revealed that Abdullah II has amassed great wealth that he distributed across six accounts in Swiss banks. Abdullah II claims the money is his own.

There are no righteous ones in this story and each side has its own version. It is safe to assume that senior Israeli officials have already picked up the phone to their Jordanian counterparts in an attempt to patch things up.

As reported by Ynetnews