Israel protests after Jordan minister steps on flag on way to government meeting
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Israel protests after Jordan minister steps on flag on way to government meeting

PM Razzaz avoids angering Jerusalem, by contrast, by entering trade union HQ in Amman via side entrance, is criticized by local media and activists for ‘supporting Zionist entity’

Jordan's minister for media affairs and communications and government spokesperson, Jumana Ghunaimat (R), stepping on the Israeli flag at the entrance to the trade union headquarters in Amman, December 2018. (Screen capture: Jamuna TV)
Jordan's minister for media affairs and communications and government spokesperson, Jumana Ghunaimat (R), stepping on the Israeli flag at the entrance to the trade union headquarters in Amman, December 2018. (Screen capture: Jamuna TV)

Jerusalem has lodged a strong protest to Amman after a Jordanian minister was seen stepping on an Israeli flag at the entrance to a government meeting over the weekend.

The meeting was held at the country’s trade union headquarters — a body deeply opposed to normalization of relations with Israel despite a peace treaty signed in 1994.

The trade union has placed a drawing of the Israeli flag on the floor at the entrance to its building, along with footprints, encouraging visitors to step on it as a form of protest against Israel.

Jordan’s minister for media affairs and communications and government spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat was praised on social media for being among those who chose to step on the flag as she arrived for the meeting.

In contrast, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz chose to enter the building through a side entrance, thus avoiding stepping on the Israeli symbol but earning himself criticism in Jordanian media.

Political activists also heckled him during his speech at the headquarters, accusing him of hypocrisy in “supporting the Zionist entity.”

This January 15, 2017 file photo shows then-newly appointed Jordanian education minister Omar Razzaz, following a meeting at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan. (Khalil Mazraawi, Pool via AP, File)

Media reports didn’t specify whether other ministers and senior officials had stepped on the flag or chosen to enter the building through the side entrance.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has lodged a strong protest with Jordan over the incident, both to government officials in Amman and to the Hashemite kingdom’s embassy in Tel Aviv.

Jordan’s attache in Israel was summoned to clarify the matter later Sunday at the Foreign Ministry.

Though the two countries have a peace treaty, ties with Israel are unpopular among much of the public in Jordan.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein addresses the 73rd United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 25, 2018 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/ Getty Images/ AFP)

Last month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced he would not renew part of the 1994 peace treaty that granted Israel use of two small agricultural areas along the border.

Abdullah said he would be pulling out of two sectioned annexes to the peace agreement that allowed Israel to lease the areas from the Jordanians for 25 years. The leases expire next year.

Abdullah did not give a reason for his decision, but he has been under domestic pressure to end the lease which includes areas at Naharayim in the north and the Tzofar enclave in the southern Arava desert, both of which will now return to Jordanian hands within a year.

Amman has faced intense pressure to cancel the lease agreement with Israel, including from 80 lawmakers who signed a letter to the government urging the cancellation.

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