Why King Abdullah II Is Angry With Mr. Netanyahu

Reply to Nurit Greenger’s article “Letter to King of Jordan.”

In her open letter to King Abdullah II of Jordan, Nurit Greenger September 26th 2015 laments the fact that the Arab media reports that the King will not speak with Mr. Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel. Her letter is long on selective historical references but short on contemporary realities. Time and space don’t allow me to comment on or rebut every sentence or reference. It is therefore appropriate to remind Nurit of the facts as they exist now and not 2000 years ago. The gross distortions of the facts by Nurit Greenger must not be allowed to go unchallenged.

Article 9 of the Wadi Arba peace Agreement recognizes Jordan’s special role in Jerusalem. Article 9 also stipulates that Jordan’s role must be acknowledged and taken into account in any eventual peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Role of Jordan in Jerusalem

The US Foreign Ministry document 93085 (1994) deals with the US Jordan relations refers specifically to a special and continuing Jordan role in Jerusalem.

Under the 1994 peace treaty, Jordan maintains a special role in the old city of Jerusalem, especially in protecting Muslim holy sites including the Noble Sanctuary where Al-Aqsa mosque stands.

Jewish extremists, who call the area the Temple Mount, want to demolish the mosque and erect a Jewish temple on its ruins. The right-wing deputies in the Knesset are trying to pass a law that would undermine Jordan’s role and allow Jewish worshippers access to the mosque. Both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority reject such plans.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that the status of the Muslim shrine will not change any time soon, his government has allowed Jewish extremists to enter the site, provoking worshippers and leading to intermittent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. The Israeli government knows very well that such provocations in Jerusalem have led to the deterioration of Israeli-Jordan relations. Jordan’s members of parliament are demanding that the Israeli Ambassador in Amman is expelled. The government has so far resisted such calls.

Even Israeli writers and academics acknowledge the fact that the present and future status of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem became more complicated with Israel’s promise to Jordan, in the July 1994 Israel-Jordan Washington Declaration, that its rights would be considered in the final status negotiations.

As stated in the Washington Declaration and reiterated in the October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace:

Israel respects the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy Shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines. (Article IX [2])

It is worth remembering that Moshe Dayan in his role as Defence Minister in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war had ordered the removal of the Israeli flag that soldiers had put above the Dome of the Rock, and conceded control of the Mount to Muslim religious authorities. Nurit Greenger criticized Dayan’s decision: “Moshe Dayan the fool who had no legal right to do what he did.”

Support For Jordanian Stance

According to The Jordan Times September 16th King Abdullah embarked on a series of contacts with key international players to drum up support for Jordan’s position in defence of Jerusalem and its holy sites. He discussed the latest violations with US Vice President Joe Biden and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

Meanwhile, Palestinian, Egyptian and Qatari leaders have voiced support for Jordan’s stance in defending Jerusalem while rallies were staged in several cities against Israeli violations in the holy city.

Also Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said Israeli forces’ recurrent attacks and raids on Al Aqsa Mosque compound and the worshippers are denounced in the international law and are against humanity and religious principles.

In those statements, the King voiced the concern and anger in Jordan because of the recent Israeli provocations in Jerusalem and Al Aqsa, which the King said would affect Jordanian-Israeli relations. Is it any wonder the King is snubbing Netanyahu? The King’s anger is understandable.

The Monarch also received a call from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, during which the two leaders discussed the recent Israeli violations in the holy city and their repercussions. If Israel is serious about maintaining the status quo and keeping the peace, it must immediately stop its raids and provocations against Al Aqsa Mosque, to halt its attacks on holy sites and to respect its commitments as stipulated in the peace treaty.

Force Used Against Worshipers

The Israeli occupation forces are also resorting to excessive use of force against defenceless worshipers and the guards of the mosque, expelling them and closing the area.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Saturday September 26th urged world powers to mount pressure on Israel, vowing legal and diplomatic efforts against its continued violations in Jerusalem.

Judeh was speaking at an extraordinary meeting in New York for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, held on the sidelines of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Judeh reiterated that Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah, will uphold its custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly Al Aqsa Mosque, as a diplomatic redline.

Hope For Peace

My only hope is that Israel and Jordan sort out their differences and work together to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians and also Israel and the entire Arab World.

In his book “Our Last Best Chance” The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, King Abdullah II warned that “unilateral measures in Jerusalem could ignite the whole region and inflame passions around the globe. – But this does not have to be the future for our region. Our people want peace. It is our responsibility as leaders to make this much-eroded dream come true.”