Peace deal in jeopardy? Israeli ambassador may be expelled from Jordan

Move to downgrade relations comes after Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich gave a speech from a podium draped with a map of “Greater Israel,” including parts of Jordan.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The Jordanian parliament voted on Tuesday to expel the Israeli ambassador to the country, marking a serious deterioration in relations between Amman and Jerusalem.

The vote came days after Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich gave a speech in Paris in which he said there is “no such thing as a Palestinian people,” remarks which earned him swift rebukes from the U.S., Europe and Arab countries.

Smotrich spoke from a podium that was draped with a map of “Greater Israel,” which includes parts of Jordan and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria.

Jordanian politicians were incensed by the map and speech, saying that Smotrich had “violated” key tenets of a peace agreement between the two countries.

On Sunday, the Jordanian authorities summoned the Israeli ambassador for a dressing down over Smotrich’s comments.

Arabic online newspaper Elaph reported that the United Arab Emirates is considering downgrading relations with Israel due to Smotrich’s speech.

Although the Hashemite Kingdom and Israel signed a peace deal in 1994, relations between the two nations have been defined by periods of high tension. Numerous Jewish visitors to Jordan have experienced rampant antisemitic harassment at the country’s border crossings and airports.

A Dubai-based rabbi recently spoke out about having his Jewish prayer objects gleefully desecrated by Jordanian customs officials during a layover in the airport.

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Former prime minister Naftali Bennett slammed Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh in April 2022 for his statements praising Temple Mount rioters,saying the official’s remarks were “unacceptable” and viewed with the “utmost severity” by Israel.

In the midst of the May 2021 Israel-Gaza clash Operation Guardian of the Walls, Jordanian parliamentarians demanded to recall their ambassador in Tel Aviv and to expel the Israeli ambassador. After a stormy six-hour long session in parliament, lawmakers voted unanimously to recommend the severing of diplomatic relations between the countries. However, no ambassadors were recalled or expelled.