Jordan to mull canceling peace deal if Israel annexes – report

Palestinian sources say Amman will recall ambassador and work with them against Israel in the international arena if Jerusalem goes ahead with West Bank plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, during the former's surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014. (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, during the former's surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014. (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/File)

Palestinian sources have reportedly warned that if Israel goes ahead with a plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Jordan will review its peace agreement with Israel and could decide to cancel it.

According to a report Saturday by Channel 13, Jordan will recall its ambassador back to Amman as a first step if annexation goes ahead, and help the Palestinians to work against Israel in the international arena.

The report quoted unnamed sources who said that Jordan does not want to take concrete steps unless or until annexation is officially declared. But they said the kingdom has told the Palestinians that King Abdullah II “will not go silently through the annexation process.” Among the possible steps it might take are canceling the peace treaty, the sources reportedly said.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have formal peace treaties and diplomatic relations with Israel.

But diplomatic relations between Amman and Jerusalem, signed in 1994 and generally characterized as a cold peace, have deteriorated significantly in the past few years, with no joint ceremony marking the quarter-century anniversary of the agreement between the two countries, and the recent termination of special arrangements that allowed Israeli farmers to easily access plots of land inside Jordan.

Amman also briefly recalled its ambassador to protest the arrests of two Jordanian nationals who were eventually released by Israel.

In this February 18, 2020, photo, a view of the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Efraim on the hills of the Jordan Valley. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

The coalition deal signed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White allows the prime minister to begin moving forward with annexation on July 1, and he has promised to annex all the settlements and the Jordan Valley — some 30 percent of the West Bank. The parts of the West Bank that Israel would extend sovereignty over are those earmarked for it under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

The Saturday report came after Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Thursday warned against Israeli annexation, saying the move would lead to “confrontation, anarchy and hopelessness.”

Safadi made the statements to an international summit discussing the Islamic State, Channel 13 reported.

“As part of the war on terror, we must act quickly to prevent Israel from annexing one-third of occupied Palestine and the consequences of this decision,” Safadi said. “Instead, negotiations must be resumed in order to achieve piece on the basis of a two-state solution.”

Jordanian officials, including the kingdom’s prime minister and foreign minister, have threatened to reconsider their treaties and agreements with Israel in the event of annexation.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi at a November 11, 2019 press conference at the Jordanian foreign ministry (Screenshot)

“We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel,” Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz told Jordanian state news agency Petra in late May.

Razzaz made his statement days after King Abdullah warned in an interview with Der Spiegel that if Israel “really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”

Israel’s annexation plan has drawn a flurry of regional and international condemnations.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is reportedly set to come to Israel on Wednesday for an urgent visit to warn Netanyahu against it and to tell him the move will harm Israel’s ties with the European Union and with Germany, despite the importance of the relationship to Berlin.

Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Shoukry, the foreign ministers of Russia and Egypt, respectively, warned Israel against annexation on Wednesday.

Lavrov and Sameh made the announcement after a call they said addressed “regional issues.” Lavrov’s office said that the call had been planned at Shoukry’s initiative.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ata press conference in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

“The ministers noted annexing sections of Palestinian land on the West Bank of the Jordan River will threaten the prospects for the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem and could provoke a new and dangerous round of violence in the region,” Lavrov’s office said in a statement.

Russia recently announced its willingness to host Israeli-Palestinian talks in Moscow in a bid to prevent annexation and restart the peace process. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said in a statement on Tuesday that he would be willing to attend bilateral talks in Moscow under Russian auspices.

Shoukry cautioned against unilateral annexation, saying that it would “lead to an increasingly complex situation and affect security and stability.”

Both parties affirmed their commitment to a two-state solution.

Despite the steady drumbeat of Jordanian statements against annexation, Cairo has remained relatively quiet. Shoukry’s statement did not indicate if Egypt would consider reviewing its own treaty with Israel.

Egypt and Israel have had a peace treaty since 1978, when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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