Jordan insists it respects peace deal, after minister walks on Israeli flag
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Jordan insists it respects peace deal, after minister walks on Israeli flag

Jerusalem protests photo of senior official stepping on Jewish state’s banner at entrance to trade union building

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)

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry on Sunday insisted that despite a recent incident in which Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat was photographed walking over an Israeli flag, the government is committed to the peace agreement it has with Israel.

Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Qatarneh reaffirmed “the (Jordanian) government’s respect for the peace treaty with Israel,” adding that the flag incident was “being dealt with via diplomatic channels.”

He said Jordan had told Israeli officials that the trade union building where Ghneimat had stepped on the flag “was private property” and that she “entered via the main entrance to attend an official meeting.”

The response came after the Israeli Foreign Ministry protested to the Jordanian government over the incident last week at the Jordanian Professional Associations Complex in Amman.

Footprints were also printed on the flag, which was displayed at the entrance to the complex.

The image of the flag had been affixed to the floor for several years to protest Israel’s military rule and Jordan’s normalized ties with the Jewish state, union officials said.

Ghunaimat, who is also the media and communications minister, was praised on social media for stepping on the flag as she arrived for the meeting.

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

Israel called a senior diplomat in the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv in for clarifications on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said.

People leaving a trade union complex in the Jordanian capital Amman step on the image of an Israeli flag on December 30, 2018 (KHALIL MAZRAAWI / AFP)

“The Foreign Ministry considers the incident in which a Jordanian minister insulted the Israeli flag in Amman serious,” a statement said.

Qatarneh, the Jordanian spokesperson, confirmed that Israel had sought clarifications over the incident.

Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz was reported to have entered the building through a side door.

Ghuneimat was not answering her phone on Sunday and did not issue any public statements.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Qatarneh’s statement.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries to have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994, but relations have often been frosty amid differences over Israeli policies in Jerusalem, where Jordan is custodian over Muslim sites, and toward the Palestinians.

Last month, Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced he would not renew part of the 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 had 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 are slated to return to Jordanian hands within a year.

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