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Ambassador: Most Jordanians Oppose Relations with Israel

Most Jordanians are opposed to normalized relations with Israel until it also concludes peace accords with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon, Jordan’s newly appointed ambassador to Israel said this week.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Marwan Muasher said “most Jordanians’ support is lukewarm and guarded at best” for the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty signed in October.

Muasher, who took up his post as Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel earlier this month, said most Jordanians want to see how the issues of Palestinian refugees and the future of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements is resolved before they would back the treaty.

A large proportion of the Jordanian population is of Palestinian origin and many have relatives living in the West Bank.

“Without successful conclusion of agreements on the Palestinian track in particular, but also on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, we cannot hope to create the proper environment under which peace between peoples will prosper,” Muasher said.

Earlier this week, Jordan’s association of dentists said it was sticking to a decision to ban members from treating Israelis other than in emergencies.

Similar directives against having dealings with Israelis have already been issued by other Jordanian professional associations, including those serving writers, doctors, lawyers and engineers.

In each case, the directives reflected opposition to normalizing ties with Israel by establishing contacts through their professional fields.

Muasher, after speaking with reporters, later visited Palestinian official Faisal Husseini at Orient House, which despite ongoing Israeli opposition, serves as the Palestine Liberation Organization’s de facto headquarters in eastern Jerusalem.

Muasher described the visit an unofficial and said it was not intended to antagonize anyone.

Muasher’s comments regarding the Israeli-Jordanian peace process came as officials and business leaders from Israel, Jordan and the United States were attending a conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman to discuss the development of the Jordan Rift Valley separating Israel and Jordan.

The conference, sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, was intended to develop a coordinated program in time for a North African-Middle East economic summit scheduled to take place in Amman in the fall.

At the meeting’s start on Monday, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Jordan’s Crown Prince Hassan called on the United States to help set up a joint authority to oversee development of the Jordan Valley.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency granted Jordan $500,000 to study the feasibility of expanding the airport at Aqaba so that Israel could share it.

Israel and Jordan have been discussing the expansion plan as a means for easing congested traffic at the nearby airport at Eilat.

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