A prominent Israeli researcher on Arab affairs has called on the Israeli government to ‘reassess’ the Jewish state’s relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a scholar at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and vice president of NEWSREAL, spoke with Arutz Sheva about the reports of a planned coup in Jordan over the weekend, and the future of the Hashemite Kingdom’s relationship with Israel.
“I’m not a prophet, I can’t predict the stability of the Jordanian royal family. But so far, this family has been functioning for almost 100 years, since Abdullah I received the emirate of Transjordan from the British Empire and established the emirate of Transjordan. So this family went through big changes, crises, like the assassination of Abdullah in Jerusalem in the early 1950s.”
“The changing of the Crown Prince from Hassan, the brother of [King] Hussein, to Abdullah II, the current king; and again the changing of the Crown Prince because the current king, Abdullah II had first as a Crown Prince his half-brother, Hamzah. In 2004, he changed it and nominated his son, Hussein, to be his successor.”
“This royal family does know how to go through changes and some things which might be viewed as an earthquake. But they still survive.”
“Prince Hamzah is 41 years old, rather young but very active. He was the Crown Prince for five years, was kicked out, but remained in the kingdom as an [envoy] of the king.”
“However, he became too popular, especially within the Bedouin tribes in Jordan, unlike the current Crown Prince, Hussein, and apparently this made his image too problematic for the king, because he might be a challenge to the king’s son when the king’s son becomes the king. Therefore Hamzah lost favor in the eyes of the king.”
How does all of this affect Israel?
“I’m not sure that it has any ramifications on Israel – as long as Israel sees the peace with Jordan and with the royal family as a strategic asset for Israel. This is actually how Israel sees it.”
“I personally think the peace with Jordan is not an asset for Israel, because the king, Abdullah II, calls on the world to help establish a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and let Israel deal with the problem of a Palestinian state, which could become a terrorist state. He doesn’t care about that. He knows that if there won’t be a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, there could be one in Jordan as an alternative homeland as some Palestinians call to do.”
“There is some kind of tension between Israel and the royal family in Jordan, yet Israel sticks to the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan.”
How strong are Israel’s ties to Jordan?
“The Jordanians actually need Israel desperately. First of all, Israel gives them every year at least 50 million cubic meters of drinking water for free.”
“Second of all, Jordan is buying Israeli gas. This definitely is in Israel’s interests.”
“Thirdly, Jordan keeps the long border between Israel and Jordan safe from terrorism.”
“And Jordan is, at the end of the day, some kind of buffer zone between Israel and the mayhem in Iraq and Iran.”
“These are the four major reasons why Israel views the relationship with Jordan as a strategic asset. I think that Israel should once in a while revise these interests, because sometimes the Jordanian royal family acts against Israel.”
“For example, the former head of the United Nations Council for Human Rights was Jordanian, the second-cousin of the king – he was acting day and night against Israel on this council.”
“A second thing: Jordan challenges Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
“Thirdly, Jordan is for establishing a Palestinian state, which could easily become a terrorist state, led by Hamas.”