ANALYSIS: Is Jordan Israel’s Peace Partner, or Enemy?

A look at how relations between Israel and Jordan are completely one-sided, and that the Hashemite Kingdom might now be seen as a foe.

By Yochanan Visser | | Topics: Jordan
King Abdullah II of Jordan can hardly be considered a genuine peace partner. Photo by Flash90
King Abdullah II of Jordan can hardly be considered a genuine peace partner. Photo by Flash90

The relationship between Jordan and Israel has not been optimal for some time, to say the least.

This despite attempts by the previous Israeli government to appease King Abdullah II through economic agreements that primarily benefited Jordan.



Since August 2021, Israel has been supplying Jordan with an additional 50 million cubic meters of water that comes from the Sea of Galilee.

The agreement to supply additional water was struck during a secret meeting between then-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Jordanian king.

The secret nature of this meeting says a lot about the attitude of Jordan – which was the second Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel.

Since Abdullah II came to power, these secret meetings have characterized Jordan’s relationship with its Jewish neighbor.

In the fall of 2022, Yair Lapid, the then interim prime minister of Israel, made another attempt to placate Jordan.

Once again, water was the lure that should have led to a change in the relationship with Jordan.

Esawi Frey, who was then Israel’s minister of regional cooperation, signed an MOU under which Israel would supply 200 million cubic meters of desalinated drinking water to Jordan.

In exchange for the water, Jordan would build large-scale solar energy projects in the desert in the south of the country and was to supply Israel with 600 megawatts of electricity annually.

That this was a clear Israeli attempt to ‘buy’ a better relationship with Jordan is easy to demonstrate.

Israel could have built such a project itself in the Aravah Desert, as the Jewish state has more technological knowledge in the field of solar energy than Jordan.


Jordanian incitement

All these goodwill gestures failed to bring about any positive change in Jordan’s attitude towards Israel. In fact, the opposite is true.

During the recent wave of Palestinian violence surrounding alleged Israeli attempts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, Jordan was Israel’s leading critic in the Arab world.

In early April, Abdullah even appeared to be calling for a holy war against Israel when he told a Palestinian Authority delegation to Amman that “it is the duty of every Muslim to deter Israel from escalations at the holy sites in Jerusalem.”

In the fall of 2022, the Jordanian king used similar rhetoric in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

During that speech, Abdullah falsely claimed, among other things, that Israel was threatening the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

Jordan has also made no secret of its opposition to the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel, Morocco, and some Gulf Arab states.

Abdullah refused to send a Jordanian delegation to the Negev Forum last year. This peace conference was co-organized by Yael Lempert, the new American candidate for ambassadorship in Jordan.

Lempert was unable to persuade Abdullah to send a Jordanian delegation to the peace conference after the king demanded that a PA delegation be also invited, in addition to the Arab states that have a peace agreement with Israel.

Jordan’s hostility to Israel is not limited to rhetoric and political strife alone, but manifests itself in other ways as well.

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Diplomat as smuggler

The most recent example of how Jordanian incitement manifests in acts of violence against Israel was the arrest of a Jordanian diplomat who was apprehended at the Allenby border crossing.

The diplomat, Imad al-Adwan, had hidden more than 200 firearms intended for Palestinian terrorists in his car.

During his interrogation by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, al-Adwan confessed to bringing contraband into Israel at least 12 times since February 2022. It concerned not only weapons but also illegal goods such as cigarettes, gold and even exotic birds.

According to some insiders, the Jordanian diplomat’s motive was not political and al-Adwan was motivated by money.

According to his own admission, al-Adwan had received a large sum of money for smuggling the weapons, money that most likely had been paid to him by Iranian agents.

Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recently claimed his organization had found ways to deliver weapons to Palestinian Arab terrorists inside Israel despite the presence of the Israeli army in “occupied Palestine.”

After the arrest of al-Adwan, the Israeli government, through Foreign Minister Eli Cohen,  made an immediate attempt to avert a crisis with Jordan, but his telephone calls to his Jordanian colleague Ayman Safadi went unanswered.

Safadi also has a reputation for virulently anti-Israeli actions and statements, and incited the masses in Jordan during the most recent Temple Mount crisis by promising that Jerusalem would be “liberated” soon.

Al-Adwan is now back in Jordan because the government in Jerusalem decided to extradite him despite the fact that there is no mutual extradition agreement between Israel and Jordan.

This also shows that Israel is doing everything possible to maintain a working relationship with its Arab neighbor.

The government in Amman now claims that al-Adwan will be prosecuted in Jordan for his crimes, and said it had already started arresting the accomplices of the Jordanian diplomat.

However, little value can be attached to the promises and words of the Jordanian government, since King Abdullah has a reputation for flouting the law in the case of Israel.


Refusal to extradite terrorist

The best example of this is the ongoing controversy surrounding the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi, a female Palestinian terrorist responsible for the deaths of 15 Israelis.

Tamimi was the mastermind behind the attack on a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001 that also wounded and maimed for life some 130 other people.

Tamimi was sentenced to 16 life terms in prison but was released in 2011 under a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas that saw the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

After her release, Tamimi went to live in Jordan, where she was welcomed with open arms and built herself a career as a TV anchorwoman, while using her position to promote terrorism against Israelis.

Since Israel agreed to release Tamimi despite protests by relatives of the victims, other venues were followed, particularly by two families of the victims of the Sbarro attack that immigrated to Israel from the United States.

In particular, Arnold Roth and his wife Frimet, who lost their 15-year-old daughter Malki in the Sbarro attack, were active in the US to get justice for their daughter.

After they successfully lobbied US lawmakers, the government of the United States finally requested Tamimi’s extradition.

This happened after the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against Tamimi for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against US nationals living abroad resulting in the deaths of these people.

However, Abdullah and the Jordanian High Court of Justice blocked the extradition, claiming that the extradition agreement Jordan signed with the US was unenforceable because the Jordanian parliament had not ratified it.

Lempert has now promised that when she becomes the new US ambassador to Amman she will do everything in her power to get Tamimi extradited, but when she was pressured by Senator Ted Cruz during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about her candidacy, it turned out that this promise was empty.

If the US relationship with Jordan were to be damaged by pressure over Tamimi’s extradition, US interests would suffer.

That much became clear from Lempert’s words when she was asked if Jordan’s continued refusal to extradite Tamimi would lead to the postponement of US aid to Jordan.

Under Abdullah, therefore, Jordan remains a safe haven for elements that are hostile to Israel or even have Israeli blood on their hands.

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One response to “ANALYSIS: Is Jordan Israel’s Peace Partner, or Enemy?”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    Jordan, we’re talking about the Arab world, the sheik world. Since the empowerment of the sheiks after the Ottoman empire was split up the Arabs have only been concerned with their vested interests. Principally their own hold on power then the benefits they gain from it. Even if the sheik is overthrown and you get a general, he still operates as a sheik. They won their power through revolution against the British and French imperialists. They consider Israel an irritation, and there’s always a mufti to exacerbate the situation. Oil and geopolitical considerations make them relevant to global interests who have shown they are happy to appease the Arabs by agreeing with their view about Israel. The spiritual importance of Israel and the worldly importance of Arabia makes the Middle East the strategic battlefield for both battles. Since God gives the importance of the spiritual battle more weight Israel can rest assured that they, not the Arabs, will prevail.

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