Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A move that spells weakness ‎- Prof. Eyal Zisser


by Prof. Eyal Zisser

Unlike the skepticism he expressed over the ‎Oslo Accords and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's commitment to them, ‎Rabin was sure that King Hussein would live up to his ‎word. ‎

The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin saw the 1994 peace ‎treaty with Jordan as one of his most important ‎diplomatic achievements, if not the most important ‎one. Unlike the skepticism he expressed over the ‎Oslo Accords and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's commitment to them, ‎Rabin was sure that King Hussein would live up to his ‎word. ‎

There is something symbolic in the ‎fact that on the anniversary of Rabin's assassination according to the Hebrew calendar, King Abdullah ‎announced that he would not renew one of the annexes ‎his father signed 24 years ago, leasing agricultural ‎borderlands to Israel.‎

The Jordanian announcement is neither a big surprise ‎nor a move that has far-reaching strategic ‎significance. After all, these are Jordanian ‎lands and it stands to reason that Jordan would have ‎reimposed its sovereignty over them at some point, ‎as no country in the Middle East would ever agree to ‎relinquish territories over time. ‎

Saudi Arabia did the same with respect to Tiran ‎and Sanafir islands, which were administered by ‎Egypt for years before Riyadh reimposed its ‎sovereignty over them ‎in 2017.‎

The problem, therefore, is not in the move per se, ‎but in the manner and timing in which the Jordanians ‎chose to declare they were essentially disavowing ‎the spirit of the 1994 peace agreement and turning ‎their backs on the partnership forged between Rabin ‎and Hussein.‎

This was not a complete surprise. After all, the ‎Jordanians are very hostile toward Israel compared ‎to populations in other Arab countries ‎and regrettably, the Jordanian regime does not even ‎try to deal with this hostility. Facing a myriad of domestic ‎challenges, the regime prefers to allow public opinion to lash ‎out at Israel and hopes this will soften the ‎criticism leveled at it on other issues.‎

At the same time, no Arab country is as dependent on Israel as Jordan, certainly in ‎terms of energy and water resources and on questions ‎of national security. ‎

Moreover, no Arab state maintains such ‎tight – albeit clandestine – strategic cooperation ‎with Israel, as Jordan. Israel welcomes this ‎cooperation and its importance is immeasurably ‎greater than the acres of agricultural land over ‎which Jordan now seeks to regain control. ‎

Overall, this is not a move that truly harms ‎Israel's interest, which is why Jerusalem shows ‎patience toward the hostile winds that are blowing ‎in its direction from Jordan. ‎

Nevertheless, the Jordanian move is as much a show ‎of Abdullah's weakness as signing the peace ‎deal was a show of his father's strength. ‎Israel should maintain the same strategic ‎cooperation with Jordan as it always has, but now, ‎our eyes have been opened.


Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.


Prof. Eyal Zisser

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/a-move-the-spells-weakness-%e2%80%8e/

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