A group of Jordanian Islamists staged a sit-in Monday night and burned an Israeli flag in front of Jordan's Tourism Ministry in Amman, to protest Jordanian tourism to Jerusalem and the need for a visa travel there. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, recognizing international borders but without prejudice to the status of areas restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.
Approximately two dozen political activists and protesters from Jordanian professional associations were involved in the one-hour demonstration, organized by the Jordanian Higher Executive Committee for Defending the Homeland and Confronting Normalization. The group is associated with the Islamic Action Front (IAF), a group linked to the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood.
The committee said in a statement that it was opposed to arrangements made by Jordanian travel agencies for tourists to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque and other sites in Jerusalem.
The committee complained, “Visiting Jerusalem after obtaining an Israeli visa is recognition of the Zionist entity, and a rejected type of normalization.” The statement added that such visits help Israel “cement its grip on Palestine and gives the impression that its occupation is legal,” according to a report in The Jordan Times.
Jordanian Professional Associations Council head Ahmad Armouti called on Jordanian travel agencies to abandon their tours to Jerusalem.
Internal political opposition to Jordan's peace with Israel from some quarters is not new, despite numerous strong economic and academic ties that have greatly benefited both countries.
The issue is complex, however, as the Jordanian daily points out: “The professional associations have been leading a campaign against normalization with Israel since Jordan signed the 1994 Wadi Araba peace treaty.
“Association members who make contact with Israelis or have any ties with Israel risk losing membership in their respective association. Under Jordanian law, professional association membership is a requirement to carry out various professions, including doctors, engineers, journalists and pharmacists.”
However, “the professional associations have yet to revoke a membership over normalization with Israel, officials have previously told The Jordan Times.”
Jordan was the second Arab nation in the region to sign a peace treaty with Israel, following Egypt's initiative in 1979.