Jordan hints at possibility of expelling Israeli ambassador

Authorities have allowed public to express support for Palestinians as violence escalated

File photo: A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on October 12, 2020, shows Bisher al-Khasawneh being sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Jordan, in the capital Amman. AFP
File photo: A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace on October 12, 2020, shows Bisher al-Khasawneh being sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Jordan, in the capital Amman. AFP

The Jordanian government promised on Monday to look into a parliamentary request to expel the Israeli ambassador as the authorities take a tougher diplomatic line against Israel in response to the war in Palestine.

Official media quoted Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh as saying that the government will study the request “in accordance with our national interest".

Parliament “unanimously” presented a memo to the government on Monday demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Amman, state television said.

The two countries have been at peace since the 1994 Wadi Araba treaty.

“We have our options in Jordan, including the legal and the diplomatic, to protect and defend the brothers in Palestine,” Mr Al Khasawneh said.

“There is no place for these crimes and for this arrogance, and for this occupation to last."

Israel continued air strikes on Gaza on Monday, while Hamas fired more rockets at Israeli cities.

Tension this month over eviction orders of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem grew into a war between Gaza militants supported by Iran and Israel.

The death toll reached 204 people on Monday. Most were killed by Israeli strikes.

The authorities in Jordan have allowed people to express support for the Palestinians since the conflict escalated last week.

Demonstrations that denounced Israel sometimes drew several thousand people, in contravention of coronavirus rules.

On Monday the mostly loyalist Parliament convened a special session in which many spoke at length against Israel.

Although Parliament has little power in Jordan and has no say over foreign policy, it is dominated by members of tribes constituting the bedrock of support for the monarchy.

Many in the system regard Israeli pressure on the Palestinians in the past decade as a threat to Jordan’s security.

They say another wave of Palestinian refugees could undermine the kingdom’s cohesion.

Jordan was the main destination for Palestinians fleeing the 1948 and 1967 conflicts. They and their descendants comprise a large proportion of Jordan’s 10 million population.

Jordanian officials say the kingdom has begun intensive diplomacy to convince world powers to curb a disproportionate Israeli response against Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas militants since a Palestinian civil war in 2007.

Hamas, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, was expelled from Jordan in the late 1990s.

Jordan said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with its Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi on Monday about “ways to halt the escalation” involving Gaza.

“The two ministers agreed on the need to stop the escalation and achieve lasting calm," Jordan said.

“The way is to stop the aggression on Gaza and all of the provocative and illegal Israeli practices in the West Bank and Al Aqsa Mosque.”

The mosque, one of Islam's holiest places, was the main scene of the confrontations before the war in Palestine broke out last week.

Many Palestinians consider Al Aqsa to be under threat from Jewish radicals. The site of the mosque is also revered by Jews.

Jordan ruled East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967 and retains custodianship over main Muslim and Christian holy sites in the city.

More on the Israel Palestine crisis

Gaza gets food and medical aid lifeline from Egypt through Rafah crossing

Gaza faces health emergency as sewage water spills into populated areas

Israel fighting 'war of attrition' in Gaza as conflict rages into second week

Updated: May 18, 2021 12:15 AM

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