A Jordanian soldier killed in the 1967 Six Day War was given a military funeral and laid to rest in East Jerusalem on Monday, in an extraordinary scene that pointed to improved ties between Israel and Jordan after years of tensions.
The soldier’s remains were discovered last month during construction work at Ammunition Hill, the site of a famous battle between Israeli and Jordanian forces.
Funeral prayers were held at the Al-Aqsa mosque and a Jordanian honor guard in uniform, with red-checkered headscarves wrapped around their faces, carried the casket to a nearby Islamic cemetery.
Jordanian military officers and government officials, as well as Palestinian representatives, attended the funeral.
Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want both territories to be part of their future state, a position with strong Jordanian support.
The kingdom gave up its territorial claims decades ago but remains the custodian of Al-Aqsa and other religious sites in East Jerusalem.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and considers the entire city to be its unified capital. The Temple Mount is the holiest site to Jews and the third holiest to Muslims, who refer to it as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
As courtesy to King Abdullah, Israel today allows burial of remains of Jordanian soldiers who were martyred in Jerusalem in 67 & bodies recently found, in a semi-official ceremony that included wrapping the bodies in the Jordanian flag & praying for them in the Al-Aqsa Mosque pic.twitter.com/itrxwQvHys
— Samer Sinijlawiسامر السنجلاوي (@SSinijlawi) September 6, 2021
Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994 and maintain close security ties. But tensions over Jerusalem and the moribund peace process with the Palestinians spiked during the 12-year-rule of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was replaced in June.
The new Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has sought to repair relations with Jordan. Bennett met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in secret less than two months ago, and in the following week the two countries signed breakthrough deals on water and trade.
Earlier this week, Israel’s new President Isaac Herzog, who holds a mostly ceremonial office, met met with the king at his palace in Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Jordan is a close Western ally that has long been seen as a bastion of stability in the volatile Middle East and a key partner in the peace process.