The Road to Peace Between Jordan and Israel

It's not easy being Jordan.

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jordan israel peace treaty

King Hussein, PM Rabin, President Clinton

But ordinary Jordanians have not yet reaped the economic fruits of peace. One of the negative effects of bilateral Jordanian-Israeli trade, and the opening of a free trade agreement with the U.S., has been raising prices due to the increased productivity of only a small sector of the population. This is one way the peace treaty is between Israel and the Jordanian elite, for their own commercial benefit and for the sake of the U.S., not the majority of Jordanians.

In light of this, with more than half of Jordan's population identifying as Palestinian, every deterioration in Israel's relationship with the Palestinians has stirred up negative feelings in Jordan. Thus, when Benjamin Netanyahu opened the Hasmonean Tunnel in Jerusalem at the end of September 1996, Palestinians living in Jordan perceived it as an affront to their honor, and this led to violence in Jordan.

The attempted poisoning of Khalid Mashal, the head of Hamas' political bureau in Amman by Mossad agents in 1997, also stirred up anger against Israel among Palestinians in Jordan, with King Hussein only preserving the peace treaty because Israel released Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin from prison.

King Abdullah II’s ascension to the throne in 1999 led to further deterioration of the relationship between Israel and Jordan. The Second Intifada and Israel’s military operations in Gaza halted many joint economic and cultural ventures. In spring 2010, King Abdullah II said that the relationship between the two countries was at its worst in years, and Jordan was better off economically before the 1994 treaty. King Abdullah II openly expressed his support for a “Palestinian state on Palestinian soil,” a departure from his father and grandfather’s position vis-à-vis Israel.  Although Jordan does not show any intentions of reneging on the 1994 peace treaty with Israel, the “warm peace” of 1994 has cooled.

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Simona Fuma Weinglass

Simona Fuma Weinglass is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem.