Jordan Names New Israel Envoy, After Position Stays Vacant for 2 Years

London-based al-Hayat newspaper reports new appointment, as Egypt also names new emissary; officials in Amman: Move does not signal improved ties with Israel.

Jordan has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, a report by London-based al-Hayat newspaper said on Saturday, after over two years in which the position has remained vacant.

According to the report, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry named diplomat Walid Abidat, who has served in the past as Amman's consul to Eilat, to replace Ali Al-Ayed, who was named Jordan's Media Affairs and Communication Minister in 2010.

Jordanian Minister of Information Samih al-Maayta didn't deny the report, saying that the Jordanian Foreign Ministry would release a detailed statement concerning he new appointment.

Al-Maayta emphasized that the appointment did not indicate a change in Jordan's policy toward Israel, saying that it was a natural process of naming a new envoy after the position was unmanned for two years.

"Jordan's position is clear, and it's to maintain the state's and the Palestinians' interests, which means the safeguarding of the peace agreement," he said.  

According to the report in al-Hayat, the decision to appoint a new ambassador to Tel Aviv was reached as Egypt decided to appoint a new envoy to Israel, who is due to officially enter office on October 17.

Jordanian sources indicated that the move was made in coordination with Cairo, and after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi declared that Egypt was committed to the international agreements to which it is signatory.  

However, the official added that the appointment of the fifth Jordanian emissary to Israel since the two countries officially established their ties did not signal that ties between the two states and between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II were improving.

Citing an official Jordanian source, al-Hayat's report indicated that the Jordanian king was uncomfortable with Netanyahu since he felt the premier was part of a right-wing line that opposes the peace process.

In addition, the sources said that the current relationship between Jerusalem and Amman has been conducted according to the tenets of the peace accord between the states, adding that any development beyond that was dependent on Israel's stance toward the Palestinian issue.

Fearing internal criticism, especially from the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan held off the naming of a new envoy to Israel until Morsi named Cairo's new ambassador to Tel Aviv.
The newly named Egyptian ambassador arrived in Israel three weeks ago, and is due to officially enter office on Oct 17.

It must be noted that many in Jordan oppose the peace agreement with Israel, signed in 1994, and demand to sever ties with Jerusalem and even to expel Israel's envoy to Amman.

Flags of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt - AP - Archive