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Anti-normalisation of relations with Israel

Feb 02,2019 - Last updated at Feb 02,2019

Despite the fact that Jordan had entered into a peace treaty with Israel back in 1994, many Jordanians have yet to get accustomed to, or digest, the implications of that treaty, with many mobilised into the ranks of an anti-normalisation group of people.

His Majesty the late King Hussein made a strategic decision when he decided to sign the Wadi Araba Peace Treaty due to far-reaching strategic considerations and out of consciousness of the country's long-term national interests, despite all the pitfalls and dangers associated with it. King Hussein must have felt that on balance, entering into a peace treaty with Israel would serve Jordan's national interests more than maintaining the status quo. Yet, some quarter of a century later, many Jordanians have yet to get used to the implications of that peace treaty, and cling to the notion that anti-normalisation with the Zionist state serves Jordan's interests more.

Of course, one cannot blame the anti-normalists for rejecting the peace treaty with Israel, having seen that Israel continues to harbour designs on not only the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but also against Jordan itself. Many Jordanians must have noted that even the two-state solution that His Majesty King Abdullah has been proposing and pursuing all along as the only viable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues to be rejected by successive Israeli governments.

Yet, anti-normalists may wish to draw a line between normalisation of relations with Israel, which is compatible with the peace treaty and constitutes a basic feature thereof, on one hand, and warming up relations with Israel on the other. Against this backdrop, anti-normalisation with Israel could be viewed as anathema to the peace treaty, but rejecting all attempts to warm up relations with Israel would not.

The anti-normalists are, therefore, failing to distinguish between normalisation of relations with Israel, which is basic, legally necessary and binding under the peace treaty on one hand, and elevating bilateral relations with Israel to warmer levels on the other, which is not legally binding.

Jordanians at large do not differ on the need to cool off relations with Israel for as long as it continues its current path of defiance of everything sensible to the Palestinian's overtures for peace. But when it comes to “normalisation” per se, it would be difficult to reconcile such a stance with the letter and spirit of the peace treaty. This growing stance is clouding the national thinking and judgments on many regional projects.

The government is called upon to speak out more coherently on this dividing subject, with a view to providing guidance to the public on what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the bilateral relations between Jordan and Israel.

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