JERUSALEM (Oct. 8)
Jordan has added its voice to the harsh criticism of the Israeli government’s peace policies.
The unprecedented attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies prompted a flurry of diplomatic contacts aimed at clarifying and easing friction between the two countries.
King Hussein said in an interview this week that the Arab countries were “bordering on despair” with the lack of Israel’s progress in the peace process with the Palestinians, and the result could lead to renewed warfare.
This, along with a formal complaint over the recent opening of a second entrance to an archaeological tunnel in Jerusalem, was another indication that the usually warm relations with Jordan had taken a frosty turn.
Netanyahu played down the tensions, saying that even friends could have differences of opinion.
“I have no doubt regarding our commitments to peace with Jordan, developing economic and political relations. I am committed to discussions with King Hussein and I see him as a very important partner,” he told Knesset reporters Tuesday.
Nevertheless, the prime minister’s political adviser was expected to be dispatched to Amman this week for talks with Jordanian officials. And the state of relations was to be discussed by senior Cabinet ministers and at the Foreign Ministry.
In an interview with the newspaper A-Shaqr Al-Awsat, King Hussein warned of dire consequences if Netanyahu failed to uphold Israel’s signed agreements.
“These agreements are sacred,” he said. Violating them “will lead us right back to all the doubts, suspicions and fears we thought we had left behind.”
Hussein alluded to the 1991 Gulf War, when Netanyahu, as deputy foreign minister, was interviewed on television wearing a gas mask, as protective gear against a possible Iraqi chemical weapons attack.
“If we don’t proceed vigorously forward in attaining a comprehensive peace in the region, the danger is there for all sorts of things to happen,” he said, including “reliving the experiences” when Netanyahu “had to don his gas mask.”
Jordan also complained to Israel over the opening of a second entrance to a Hasmonean tunnel in Jerusalem, which prompted the violent clashes in the territories earlier this month.
Citing the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, which acknowledges the Hashemite kingdom’s special role with regard to the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, the complaint said Israel should have consulted Jordan before taking any steps.