Peace: the road that leads to war — Part 8
JORDAN (CONT.) Unlike Israel’s overwhelming majority Knesset vote in favor of the peace treaty with Jordan—105 for the treaty, 3 against, and 6 abstentions—Jordan’s parliament only ratified it by a vote of 55 for, 23 against and 2 abstentions. And that vote only came “after many members attacked the accord as a total sellout of the Arab-Muslim cause.” Also, unlike the sea of Israeli flags waving furiously in Israel’s warm welcome to King Hussein as he became the second Arab leader to ever set foot in Israel (Egypt’s president Sadat came in November 1977—he was duly assassinated in October 1981), not a solitary flag was to be seen as the Israeli leaders made their reciprocal visit to the Hashemiyeh Royal Palace in Amman. And thousands of Jordanians defied a government ban on protests and demonstrated in the center of the Jordanian capital—the king’s armored personnel carriers patrolled to ensure calm.
Israeli journalists were for the first time permitted to operate from Amman, but they reported widespread Jordanian opposition to accepting the king’s peace. On the day the border crossings were opened, a lady interviewed by Voice of Israel Radio spoke for many: “The King gives us an order—this is what he wants. Am I supposed to stop hating you now? Are my sons supposed to stop hating you?” Jordanian security forces escorted the Israeli tour buses, and police even went so far as to block off all intersections through which the buses passed! One Jewish visitor was stabbed and slightly injured on a bus near Amman, and Jordanian terror groups pledged to launch more attacks against the “unwelcome Zionists.”
In December 1994, 11 Jordanians were sentence to death for their part in trying to overthrow the Jordanian government. And, while the Jordanians opened their embassy almost immediately following the signing of the peace treaty, Israel was not been able to establish its embassy in Jordan—it operated for years from a hotel in Amman. Israeli Embassy staff had found several suitable properties, but the landlords refused to allow Israel to use their properties. In February 1995, the late King Hussein hosted a group of 28 Israeli MKs in his palace, but it was hard for the Israelis to ignore a front page article in the Jordan Times which said the visit “offended the feelings of the Jordanian people, who will see the enemies of the nation, the occupiers and the war criminals on their national soil.
King Hussein was hoping that Israel would in some way help to prolong the life of the Hashemite Kingdom. Fundamental Islam was, and is still, growing at a rapid rate in Jordan as in all other Arab states, and the former king knew that it was in the interests of the Israelis to extend Hashemite rule in Jordan after his death in the near future. However, the Jerusalem Post quoted an unidentified “very senior Israeli official” saying in an interview that:
“Developments in Jordan will sooner of later bring about the end of the Hashemite regime. I am not saying that Jordan will disappear as a state. But Jordan as a kingdom, as a country ruled by a king will disappear—the mood in the street is irreversible.”
The mood on the street has not changed in the 20 years since the signing of the peace agreement. Sooner or later, Palestinian Islamic fundamentalists will topple the government of Hussein’s heir, King Abdullah II. When that takes place, Israel will face a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-Islamic state four times its own size that is ready to go to war at the first opportunity. The late Yasser Arafat had already rejected the Hashemite administration of Jerusalem’s Islamic shrines even though he had no authority in Jerusalem whatsoever.
When Jerusalem’s supreme Muslim Mufti Suliman Jabari died in October 1994, King Hussein speedily appointed a successor; however, Arafat rejected Hussein’s authority and appointed a PLO Muslim Mufti, Ikrema Sabri, who, on the Temple Mount before 10,000 Muslim worshipers, said: “Muslims, I am sure that Israel will eventually be destroyed and that the settlements will be your spoils.” And, in May 1995, Sabri called for jihad and stated that Jerusalem must be “liberated from Israeli occupation and turned into Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine.” There was a stand-off between Hussein and Arafat and Jerusalem today still has two Muslim Muftis, and the Muslim holy places have two administrative bodies.
Tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have demonstrated in Amman for the Hashemite monarchy to be replaced by an Islamic government, and for the country to be ruled by Islamic (Shari’ah) law.
In August 2014, in Amman, during Israel’s third war in Gaza against Hamas—an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood—an estimated 15,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters demonstrated in support of Hamas, calling out “Death to Israel” and encouraging Palestinian terror groups to fire more rockets at Israel.
In November 2014 members of the Jordanian parliament held a moment of silence and read Qur’an verses aloud in memory of two Palestinian terrorists who murdered five Israelis in an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue the previous morning. The terrorists, who attacked Jewish worshipers with meat cleavers and guns as they prayed, were killed by Israeli security forces at the intensely bloody scene. The Jordanian prime minister, Abdullah Ensour, sent a condolence letter to the families of the Palestinian terrorists.
In Jordan’s parliament, on December 10, 2014, Jordan’s Energy Minister Mohammed Hamed faced down growing opposition to a $15 billion natural gas deal with Israel by defending it. The opposition to the deal within and without parliament is growing and the “Say No to Natural Gas Deal with Israel” campaign has been gaining ground with 79 out of 150 Jordanian parliamentarians opposing the deal.
King Abdullah II has repeatedly threatened to dissolve Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel due to the threat Islamists present to his throne, but the hundreds of millions of liters of drinking water that Israel provides each year as a condition for peace helps to rein in Abdullah’s threats. Jordan has a perpetual water shortage, which grows each year through a falling annual precipitation and a growing population; it needs Israel’s water. Jordan’s supply of natural gas from Egypt is constantly interrupted by jihadists operating in the Sinai Peninsula who persistently blow up the pipeline that carries gas from Egypt to Jordan. Buying natural gas from Israel would alleviate the disruptions in supply, but it appears that most Jordanians would rather have no gas than have gas supplied by Israel. Two decades on the peace between Jordan and Israel is extremely fragile. It is now a matter of which gives way first, Abdullah’s throne or Jordan’s peace with Israel. Either way, the road will lead to war.
To be continued
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