Netanyahu Severely Damaged Jordan-Israel Ties, Gantz Says After UAE Snafu

Gantz's remarks come hours after Netanyahu canceled his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, claiming there were difficulties with approving the flight path with Jordan

File photo: Jordan's King Abdulla meets Israeli PM Netanyahu in Aqaba, Jordan.
File photo: Jordan's King Abdulla meets Israeli PM Netanyahu in Aqaba, Jordan.Credit: REUTERS

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Thursday that the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent years has severely harmed Israel's relations with Jordan, hours after the prime minister canceled his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, claiming there were difficulties with approving the flight path with Jordan.

"Jordan is a strategic partner of Israel," Gantz tweeted. "Our defense and diplomatic ties are a foundation stone in our national security outlook."

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"I want to emphasize that Israel is committed to the agreements between us and the Jordanians, and have great respect for the Jordanian government and King Abdullah. Unfortunately, Netanyahu has seriously damaged relations with Jordan with his behavior in recent years."

Gantz added that this led "to a significant loss of security, diplomatic and financial assets for Israel. I personally, along with the entire defense establishment, will continue to work to strengthen ties with Jordan in every aspect, and establishing ties with every country in the region, with an emphasis on Jordan and Egypt, with whom we have longstanding, stable peace agreements."

This marks the fourth time Netanyahu's planned visit to the UAE, which would have been the first since the Gulf state established diplomatic ties with Israel, was canceled.

According to a statement issued by Netanyahu's office, he and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan agreed to reschedule. A hold-up in overflight permission from Amman for Netanyahu's plane "apparently" stemmed from the cancellation of a visit by Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Wednesday over a dispute regarding security arrangements at the site, the statement said.

Permission eventually came through but too late for Netanyahu's itinerary, which included meeting his visiting Hungarian and Czech counterparts later on Thursday, it said. Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment on the overflight issue. But Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi confirmed the crown prince's cancelled Al-Aqsa visit, which would have been the first there by Jordan's future king.

State TV quoted Safadi as saying Israeli authorities had tried to change a program agreed with Amman in a manner that it deemed harmful to Palestinian and Muslim rights of worship. "The crown prince did not want to allow Israel to impose restrictions on Muslims," Safadi was quoted as saying.

"After understandings had already been reached on security for the crown prince's delegation, we were surprised by Israel's wish to make new security arrangements, which would have harmed Jerusalem residents' ability to pray at Al-Aqsa on the night of the visit," he said.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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