Relations between Israel and Jordan, neighboring states that signed a peace treaty in 1994, have hit rock bottom after twin decisions by the Israeli government that have been widely seen as an affront to Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
The first was Israel’s order, since rescinded, to install metal detectors at the Noble Sanctuary, the Muslim name for the disputed plateau in Jerusalem’s Old City that holds the Al Aqsa Mosque and gold Dome of the Rock. Although Israel backed down, the decision was seen as a slap to Jordan, which is the legal custodian of the site.
The other involved Israel’s response to a deadly incident in the Jordanian capital, Amman, in which an Israeli Embassy guard killed two Jordanians, a 17-year-old delivery boy and an orthopedic surgeon.
The result has been a diplomatic and social-media chill between the two countries and their leaders that has little precedence in the years since the peace treaty was signed.
“The whole thing is very dangerous,” said Salameh Nematt, a Jordanian writer and political analyst, in an interview from the United States, where he was traveling.
Referring to the Amman shooting and its aftermath, he said: “The incident itself, which is provocative, isn’t dangerous for the king, but it comes as so many factors are exerting enormous pressure on Jordan: the economy, the refugee crisis, a lack of progress on internal problems. Something like this can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Against the backdrop of the Israel embassy guard affair and the Temple Mount crisis, King Abdullah II of Jordan is expected to arrive at the Palestinian Authority for the first time in five years—and show his political support of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who severed relations with Israel.
Abdullah's arrival at the present time is expected to give Abbas political support in a time when relations between Israel and the PA deteriorated due to Abbas' decision to sever ties with Israel, including security coordination.
The fact that Abdullah will arrive in Ramallah shortly after the incident in Amman—in which an Israeli security guard shot two Jordanian civilians—and after the Temple Mount crisis, two events that brought Israel-Jordan relations to a record low, constitutes a clear and meaningful statement to Israel.
A US Senate committee approved legislation Thursday that would suspend US financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends what lawmakers said is a long-standing practice of rewarding Palestinians who kill Americans and Israelis.
Members of the Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 17-4 to pass the measure, called the "Taylor Force Act," sponsored by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, and the committee chairman, Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker.
"This is sick," Corker said.
Husam Zomlot, chief representative of the Palestinian General Delegation to the US, called the legislation "misinformed and counterproductive." He disputed Corker's assessment of what he described as a 52-year old program "to support families who lost their breadwinners to the atrocities of the occupation, the vast majority of whom are unduly arrested or killed by Israel."
Palestinians have argued that ending Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem—lands Palestinians seek for their state—is key to defeating terrorism.