The diplomatic stalemate and the provocations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government in East Jerusalem harm not only the chance for peace in the future but also past fruits of peace. Fifteen years after the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was signed, the two countries are now deep in a crisis the government is doing nothing to resolve.
As Barak Ravid reported yesterday in Haaretz, there is almost a complete lack of communication between Netanyahu and King Abdullah II. The situation is no better on the lower echelons: the Jordanians are boycotting Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and hold few meetings with senior Israeli officials. Joint economic projects between the two countries are also on hold. Ties, if they exist at all, are only related to sensitive security issues and water.
Jordan is more concerned than ever about increased Israeli pressure on the Palestinians in the West Bank, which could undermine internal stability in the Hashemite Kingdom. King Abdullah is therefore worried about the absence of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israeli activities aimed at increasing the number of Jews living in East Jerusalem - where Jordan was promised special status at Islamic holy sites according to the peace agreement.
The Jordanians do not trust Netanyahu, and hold his conduct during his first term as prime minister against him, when he ordered the assassination of senior Hamas official Khaled Meshal on their soil.
As opposed to Turkey, whose prime minister openly attacked Israel, Jordan prefers to handle the crisis discretely and has made do with diplomatic protests. But quiet on the media front does not mean the seriousness of the situation may be dismissed or ignored.
Israel has always considered strong ties with Jordan as having supreme strategic importance. Sacrificing these ties for the sake of the Netanyahu government's harmful actions in East Jerusalem demonstrates a severe deficiency in the management of foreign and security policy.
The prime minister must realize the diplomatic price Israel is paying for his attempts to placate the right, stop provocations like the "planting of the university center in Ariel" of which he so proudly spoke yesterday, and place rehabilitating relations with Jordan at a higher priority level.
His bureau's comment - that Netanyahu would be happy to meet with the king "whenever the need arises" - shows dangerous indifference in light of the erosion of Israel's status in the region, and gratuitous arrogance toward a country whose friendship is essential.
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