Jordan’s first ambassador to Israel, who subsequently served as the kingdom’s foreign minister, said last week that Amman must reexamine its peace accord and ties with Jerusalem, claiming the Jewish state could be planning a mass expulsion of millions of Palestinians.
“I support reexamining the accord, as well as our entire approach toward Israel. Any rapprochement — economic or otherwise — with Israel in the past or present should be entirely reexamined, in my view,” Marwan Muasher said during the interview, aired last Thursday by Al-Mamlaka TV and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Muasher became Jordan’s first diplomatic envoy to Israel in 1995, a year after the peace agreement was signed. He served until 1996, after which he served in many senior political positions, including ambassador to the United States in 1997-2002 and foreign minister in 2002-2004. Having quit politics in 2010, he is currently a Middle East researcher for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.
Asked if his past as ambassador to Israel was “haunting” him, Muasher said: “No doubt. I’ll have you know that I haven’t visited Israel since I left my post. I have not been engaged in any normalization activity [with Israel] since I left my post. I have not had any relations with any Israelis since I left that post. Do you know when it was? 23 years ago!”
That statement is untrue, however. As foreign minister in 2004, Muasher met and even shook hands with his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom at the UN General Assembly.
Muasher said that the current Israeli government — which has pledged repeatedly to annex parts of the West Bank — was hindering the creation of a Palestinian state and therefore “actively working against Jordan’s national interest.” He said Amman should take a “completely different” approach toward Israel, slamming past gas deals between the countries.
The interview took place a day after two Jordanians held in Israel for months under administrative detention and without charge were released after one of them, Heba al-Labadi, went on a hunger strike and Jordanians held mass protests demanding that the government nix the peace deal with Israel.
“We have to be firm. What happened yesterday is clear evidence of that,” Muasher said. “When Jordan is assertive on matters of security, it can gain concessions from Israel.”
He went as far as to accuse Israel of planning to orchestrate a mass exodus of Palestinians to Jordan, claiming the atrocities committed by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the terror groups and rebels it fought in the country’s bloody civil war could also be carried out by Israel.
“It can expel the Palestinians to Jordan, one way or another,” he argued. “In the past, we used to say that was impossible, that in today’s world, one cannot expel millions of people from their land. After Syria, we can no longer say this. Six million Syrians left their land in six months. One can create the circumstances for something like this to happen.”
However, Muasher acknowledged that other international considerations also exist and that nullifying the accord “is not that simple,” but argued that Amman could take many actions short of nixing the deal entirely, without elaborating.