'I worry that Netanyahu may want to annex the West Bank'

Top Jordanian politician: We hope Israel’s elections mark the end of Netanyahu

Faisal al-Fayez, speaker of the Senate and a former prime minister, says his nation wants to see Gantz make peace efforts if he becomes Israel’s next leader

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

Jordanian Senate Speaker Faisal al-Fayez on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea on March 6, 2019. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel)
Jordanian Senate Speaker Faisal al-Fayez on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea on March 6, 2019. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel)

DEAD SEA, Jordan — A senior Jordanian politician has said Jordan hopes Israel’s national elections will produce a new government headed by someone other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jordan is one of two Arab countries to maintain formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Jordan hopes that after these elections, there will be a government led by someone other than Netanyahu, who knows that the only solution to the Palestinian issue is the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Jordanian Senate Speaker Faisal al-Fayez told The Times of Israel over the weekend, on the margins of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

“Netanyahu’s position on the Palestinian issue is known. He is not looking to resolve it and I worry that he may want to annex the West Bank in the future.”

The Senate is the upper house of the Jordanian parliament, which proposes and approves legislation. The king appoints its speaker and members.

Jordanian King Abdullah has not made public comments about Israel’s upcoming elections.

Asked about Benny Gantz, Blue and White’s top candidate and Netanyahu’s main challenger, Fayez, who has previously served as Jordanian prime minister and defense minister, said: “We in Jordan wish that if he becomes prime minister, he will be less extreme than Netanyahu and will make efforts to advance peace.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Benny Gantz, right. (Hadas Parush/Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The latest polls indicate that Netanyahu’s Likud party will likely be best placed to lead the next government. But the prime minister has said in recent days that the Israeli right was in danger of losing its grip on power following the elections. In a video posted to social media, the premier called on voters to “come back home to Likud,” warning that the Blue and White party could “break the right-wing bloc.”

Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, has said he believes he will become Israel’s next prime minister. While Gantz has said that Israel should “strive for peace” with the Palestinians, he has not endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Senate speaker also said he thinks personal ties between Jordanians and Israelis will remain almost nonexistent without a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We have a peace treaty with Israel and there are official ties,” he said. “But on the popular level, interaction between Jordanians and Israelis is almost zero. The only way this can change is if Israel gives the Palestinian people their rights including to a sovereign, livable and independent state.”

While Israel and Jordan signed a peace deal in 1994 and their governments cooperate on security, economic and other issue, contact between Jordanians and Israelis has continued to be very limited.

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