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Hashemite Regime in Jordan Enraged by IDF General´s Comments

The IDF’s Chief of Staff publicly scolded two of Israel’s top generals after their assessments regarding regional stability offended Egypt and the Hashemite regime in Jordan.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 2/24/2006, 10:35 AM / Last Update: 2/23/2006, 7:52 PM

Central District Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh’s words set off a crisis with Jordan when it was reported that, in a high-level closed-door meeting at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, he virtually predicted the toppling of the Hashemite regime ruling the country by an “Islamic axis,” due to the fact that it is populated by an overwhelming majority of Palestinians.

Naveh said, “I don't want to be a prophet, but after King Abdullah, I don't think there will be another monarch in Jordan…Already now, 80 percent of the population [in Jordan] is Palestinian. Hamas is gathering strength, and a dangerous axis starting in Iran and continuing through Iraq and Jordan is in the process of formation."

Jordan’s chief consul Omar Nadif was at the meeting and is believed to have been the one who turned the remarks into a crisis, though similar assessments have been widely vocalized in other forums. “We strongly condemn and reject this irresponsible remark made by Maj.-Gen. Naveh,” Nadif told reporters. “We expect the Israeli government to take appropriate action against the officer who made the remark, which indicates both a lack of discipline and a lack of understanding.” He later sent an official letter demanding Naveh be removed from his post.

Jordan’s state-run news agency, Petra, refused to even quote Naveh’s statements about Abdullah being the last king and Jordan’s Palestinian majority. Petra instead quoted his assessment that a Muslim axis could pass from Tehran to Gaza, possibly passing through Jordan in the future and affecting the regime there.

Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni, Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz all rushed to distance the Israeli government from Naveh’s remarks, saying they do not represent the policies of the State of Israel. "Israel sees Jordan as a strong and stable country with a glorious tradition and a promising future,” a Defense Ministry statement read. “Israel wishes to express respect and appreciation to the Hashemite kingdom's vital contributions to the stability and peace in the region."

"There is not the slightest change in Israel's position with regard to Jordan,” a message from Foreign Minister Livni to her Hashemite counterpart read. “We do not consider Jordan in any way as a substitute Palestinian state."

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert phoned Hashemite ruler King Abdullah to apologize personally for the statements. Naveh himself released a statement saying he intends to send an official apology to his counterparts in the Hashemite army.

Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinski was also reprimanded after saying that the first signs of the weakening of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime are already visible on the horizon. Egypt’s ambassador angrily protested the remarks, which were made to a forum of businessmen.

"Careless statements may be taken out of context," Chief of Staff Halutz reportedly told the top generals. "Such developments may draw the IDF into an unnecessary public argument and create a false pretense as to the government's policy in relation to the IDF's."

Speaking to Army Radio Thursday, former Deputy Intelligence Chief Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said that the response of the Jordanian officials to the remarks by Naveh were the result of faulty translation by the company providing translations for non-Hebrew speakers at the meeting. He says Naveh was merely explaining that Israel and Jordan face similar threats from the Iranian-Hamas axis.

Of all the Arab countries established in the Middle East during the 1920s, Jordan is the only one still ruled by the same European-installed regime. Israel actually prevented a PLO takeover of Jordan in 1970, when Syria invaded Jordan in an attempt to help the PLO topple the Hashemites. Israel mobilized its reserve troops – a move credited with inducing the Syrians to withdraw.

A large majority of the population in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is considered Palestinian.