A two-sided game: Israel has a significant interest in a stable and functioning Jordan

A two-sided game: Israel has a significant interest in a stable and functioning Jordan

Our neighbor to the east, with whom we share the longest border, treasures within it countless opportunities and challenges, but in recent years it has been mentioned in the Israeli media precisely in negative contexts.

First, its leadership often criticizes Israeli policy, with an emphasis on events that take place in Jerusalem in general and the Temple Mount in particular. Thus, for example, when the Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir went up to the Temple Mount a few weeks ago, the Jordanian leadership stepped up and came out with particularly harsh condemnation.

Recently, the Jordanian ambassador was also detained by an Israeli policeman when he wanted to go up to the Temple Mount and pray in the mosque – a decidedly wrong decision, but innocent, which created a lot of commotion and did not contribute to the tense atmosphere between the two countries. This tension, created during the previous tenure of the Netanyahu government, faded a little during the change government, but recently returned in full force.

Even earlier, during and following Operation Wall Guardian, the Hamas movement tried, with only partial success, to create a connection in the Arab and Muslim world between it and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to establish in global public opinion the perception that the State of Israel is violating its obligations and harming the mosque. In doing so, in fact, the movement tried to “hijack” the natural and accepted ownership in the Sunni Muslim world, that of Jordan, over the holy site for Islam.

What is interesting is that precisely because of the weakness of the royal regime in Jordan, in the face of the Jordanian street, which is mostly Palestinian, Jordan found itself in a declarative competition with Hamas, on the question of who more strongly condemns the Israeli measures, and positions itself as the legitimate party entrusted with the mosque and its maintenance.

This is how the Jordanian kingdom has maneuvered its way since the declaration of its independence in 1946, in the face of takeover attempts and hostile factors from home and abroad that threaten the stability of the government. Its delicate position between Arab-Muslim countries greedy for territory and spatial control challenges it all the time. It is no less than a miracle, for example, that it did not collapse economically and in terms of its infrastructure, given the thousands of refugees who poured into it from Syria during the years of the civil war in the country.

These challenges, which are Jordan’s lot, strengthen its dependence on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, as well as the United States, both on the economic level and in favor of maintaining the stability of the government at home in the military sense. Economic support requires Jordan to respond to the demands of the Gulf countries, such as calming the winds and lowering the level The criticism against Israel, for example during the Guardian of the Walls, something that did not happen despite the pleas of countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

But the game is not one-sided. Israel is also interested in maintaining a stable Jordan, since any challenge to the existing order carries the risk of spillover to our borders. Recently it is also possible to trace another alarming phenomenon, in the form of Iran. It is having difficulty reaping significant successes in Syria, and is looking for additional arenas in which to establish its control. Thus, for example, she has recently found great interest in quite a few sites in Jordan where she suddenly discovered the religious and historical importance of Shiite Islam.

Hence, the first visit of the Prime Minister of Israel to Jordan is not surprising at all. Israel and Jordan have more common interests on the geostrategic level than points of disagreement, and without a doubt this concept is the fertile ground from which it is important to take several steps. The first is the strengthening of Jordan’s position with regard to its control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, compared to other parties in the arena competing as mentioned for the coveted title. On the other hand, there is Israel’s need for Jordan to help reduce the potential for conflagration surrounding any event concerning the Temple Mount complex, and not to cooperate with the heating up of spirits in the Muslim area.

Second, the two countries are not interested in Iranian influence in the Jordanian area, and are therefore required to act – together with the Gulf countries hostile to Iran – to minimize its presence in the kingdom to the minimum possible. In addition, Jordan’s need to create income mechanisms stands out, along with creating a variety of employment opportunities in order to maintain stability in the kingdom. Israel must invest a lot of effort and creative thinking in financial aid to Jordan, out of a mutual interest in maintaining stability and employing the many Palestinians living there. This is, among other things, through the promotion of regional projects in the areas of electricity and water, as have already begun to be carried out in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, and in other areas.

For this purpose, it is not enough to have an office for regional cooperation that does not enjoy significant influence in the government over the years. There is a real need to upgrade the issue to the personal care of the Prime Minister, alongside the heads of the security mechanisms, possibly through the new Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer. It is not for nothing that Dermer and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar accompanied Netanyahu’s last visit to the Kingdom.

It is only important to make sure that the visit will not amount to calming the spirits and lowering the flames on the security level, but that the ground will be prepared for the creation of joint regional economic anchors that will serve as a guarantee for regional security in the long term as well.

The author is a former Knesset member


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