Jordanian ambassador returns to Tel Aviv after spat over jailed nationals

Jordanian ambassador returns to Tel Aviv after spat over jailed nationals

Ghassan Majali came back to Israel on November 12, diplomat says, several days after two Jordanians were released from Israeli detention as part of a deal with Amman

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Ghassan Majali, Jordan's newly appointed ambassador to Israel. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Ghassan Majali, Jordan's newly appointed ambassador to Israel. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Jordan’s ambassador to Israel, Ghassan Majali, has returned to Tel Aviv, a Jordanian diplomat said Monday, several weeks after being recalled by Amman.

“The ambassador returned on November 12, 2019,” an official at the Hashemite Kingdom’s embassy in Tel Aviv, who asked to remain nameless, wrote in an email to The Times of Israel.

Majali was recalled to Amman on October 30 to protest Israel’s detainment of two Jordanian nationals.

Israel held Heba al-Labadi, 32, and Abdel Rahman Miri, 29, for approximately two months without charge, but released them to Jordan in early November as part of a deal to restore the ambassador.

Israeli authorities had suspected Labadi and Miri of maintaining ties to terror groups. Raslan Mahajna, Labadi and Miri’s lawyer, said both of his clients denied the suspicions.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in early November that Israel agreed to return Labadi and Miri to Jordan under an agreement with Amman that would see Majali reinstalled in Tel Aviv within days.

Jordan, however, did not publicly announce that Majali had returned to the Jewish state.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry also declined to comment last week as to whether the top Jordanian diplomat in Israel had come back to his post in Tel Aviv.

Last Thursday, Jordanian King Abdullah II said that relations between Jordan and Israel, which signed a landmark peace treaty 25 years ago, were now at their worst point ever.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein (R) arrive for the opening parliamentary session in the capital Amman on November 10, 2019, as Jordan reasserted its control over land enclaves on the border with Israel. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

“The Jordanian-Israeli relationship is at an all time low,” Abdullah told an event in New York City hosted by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a US think tank.

An edited video of his remarks were posted on the Royal Hashemite Court’s Youtube page last Friday.

In addition to the recalling of Majali, recent weeks have also seen the termination of annexes in the peace treaty between Amman and Jerusalem that allowed Israeli farmers, their employees and others to easily access plots of land inside Jordan.

“Part of it is because of the Israeli domestic matters,” Abdullah said, in an apparent reference to the political gridlock in Jerusalem which could lead to a third election in less than a year. “We are hoping Israel will decide its future — whether it is in the next several weeks or three months.”

Later in his comments, Abdullah said: “The problems that we have had with Israel [are] bilateral… Now I hope, whatever happens in Israel over the next two or three months, we can get back to talking to each other on simple issues that we haven’t been able to talk about for the past two years.”

In the video, he did not clarify which “simple issues” Israel and Jordan have been unable to discuss over the past two years. The bilateral ties between the countries span trade, water, agriculture, tourism, natural gas and many other issues.

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

While security ties between the Israel and Jordan have flourished, political relations have soured recently over a number of matters including Netanyahu’s pledge in September to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, if he is given another term in office.

Jordan has long supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would include the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

read more: