Jordan's Abdullah Warns of 'Major Clash' With Israel if Annexation Goes Ahead

U.S. State Department says Israeli moves towards annexing West Bank territory should be discussed in the context of direct peace talks between Israelis, Palestinians, regional actors

Jack Khoury
Amir Tibon
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Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on January 15, 2020.
Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on January 15, 2020.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Amir Tibon

Jordan's King Abdullah II warned in an interview Friday that if Israel moves forward with its declared plan to begin annexing West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley in July, it will face a major clash with the kingdom.

When asked by the German newspaper Der Spiegel if the move would freeze the peace treaty with Jordan, he said "I do not want to jump to statements and threats, and I will not prepare the ground for confrontation, but we are studying all the options and formulating understandings with many European countries and the international community."

According to King Abdullah, all those leading and calling for a one-state solution do not understand the consequences and do not understand what might happen if the Palestinian Authority collapses, "leading to deterioration and chaos and radicalization in the region."

The U.S. State Department said on Friday that the Trump administration still wants to conduct direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as other regional actors, based on the administration’s Middle East peace plan. Spokeswoman Megan Ortagus added that Israeli moves toward annexation in the West Bank should be discussed in the broader context of direct peace talks.

In reply to Abdullah's comments, Ortagus added that the United States appreciates the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan and wants to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. She added that this the administration wants to bring the sides together for direct negotiations based on its plan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government coalition agreement granted him the right to bring the annexation plan up for a vote in the cabinet or the Knesset as soon as July 1, subject to the “full agreement” of the U.S. administration.

In January, the helm of the Israeli security establishment expressed worry about the future of the relationship between Israel and Jordan. With the presentation of the U.S. administration’s peace plan, and especially given Netanyahu’s intent to annex of the Jordan Valley, the top brass warned against unilateral steps that could influence the future of ties with Amman.

According to this assessment, which has been conveyed to senior politicians, King Abdullah of Jordan is under a host of domestic pressures that are making things difficult for his regime.

An uncoordinated move by Israel, especially regarding annexing the Jordan Valley, could challenge the diplomatic and security ties the kingdom maintains with Israel. Some assessments say that annexing the valley might even undermine the peace treaty between the two countries.

On Wednesday, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, said that Israel's annexation plans will be "the most important item on the agenda" of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Friday.

When asked about sanctions, Borell said he will consider the different positions that may arise within the union. "We are by the time being far away from discussing about sanctioning – but it’s important to know which is the position of the member states,” said Borell at a press conference in Brussels.

Also Wednesday, the Chairwoman of the International Relations and Defence Committee in Britain’s House of Lords questioned whether Israel should continue to receive preferential access to the U.K. market if the plan for annexing West Bank territory, as laid out in the incoming unity government's coalition agreement, proceeds.

Sources told Haaretz that there is increasing support among EU states for sanctions intended to deter Israel from annexing any territory. France, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg are all said to be calling for a tough line on the issue.

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