Relations Between Israel and Jordan at an All-time Low, King Abdullah Says

Talking to a New York audience, Abdullah points finger at Israeli domestic issues, lack of focus on two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Jordanian King Abdullah II during a swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, Amman, November 7, 2019
AFP

Jordanian King Abdullah said on Thursday that the relationship between Israel and Jordan is “at an all-time low”, mostly because of domestic political issues in Israel.

The King also warned that it was impossible to make progress towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement without American involvement, and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was holding back Israel’s full integration into the Middle East. 

Abdullah made these comments in an event organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which took place in New York City. He told the crowd that “the Jordanian-Israeli relationship is at an all-time low. Part of it is because of Israeli domestic issues.” He expressed hope that “Israel will decide its future in the next several weeks or months, and then it is very important for all of us to refocus our energies” on solving the problems in the two countries’ relationship.

Israel and Jordan have had a bilateral peace agreement since 1994. Earlier this month, Jordan insisted, against Israeli objections, to implement its sovereignty over lands that were shared by the two countries for the past 25 years. The Jordanian decision was in line with the contents of the peace agreement, but it was interpreted in both Israel and Jordan as a sign of frustration from the Jordanian government, and of tensions in the relationship between Amman and Jerusalem. 

King Abdullah of Jordan standing to attention with army troops under a Jordanian national flag during a ceremony at the Jordan Valley site of Naharayim on November 11, 2019.
Gil Eliahu

Abdullah said at the event that “the problems we’ve had with Israel, it’s bilateral. Part of it is internal politics. I understand that, but not at the expense of something that my father and the late Prime Minister Rabin fought so hard to achieve. I hope we can get back to talking to each other about simple issues that we haven’t been able to to talk about for the past two years.” He said that currently, the relationship is in a “pause," partly because Israel has not had an elected government with a clear mandate from the people for more than a year

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the King said that “anybody in the international community who says we can have peace between Israel and the Palestinians without the support of America doesn’t know our region. We all need America to bring both sides together. The only way to move forward is a two state solution, the alternative is bad for everyone.”

He warned that any other solution except the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel, would lead to “an immediate challenge of equal rights” for Israel. “Have we gone beyond the point of no return? What is the alternative?”, Abdullah asked. He said that in his opinion, it was still possible to implement a two-state solution. 

“Good men and women can bring the momentum back in the right direction. Israel’s future is being part of the Middle East, the problem is that’s never going to happen 100% unless we solve the Palestinian problem. A lot of people can say behind closed doors ‘do whatever you want’, but in reality it’s a sensitive, emotional issue, that unless we can solve, we will never have the full integration that all of us deserve.”