Despite crises and controversies, Israel’s relationship with Jordan represents the most important regional relationship for Jerusalem from a security point of view, and needs to be bolstered by stepped-up economic ties.
Bilateral ties have been critical to the national security of both states since the days of King Hussein, who is fondly remembered and respected by Israelis, after he came to comfort bereaved families and apologize to them following the Island of Peace massacre in 1997.
Both countries have vital interests in maintaining ties with one another. No territorial dispute casts a shadow over bilateral ties, and the border line is clear and uncontroversial, running down the Jordan River, from the North to the Arava region in the South. This is Israel’s longest border, and it is one that Jordan has kept safe and secure for many years.
In addition, Jordan acts as a buffer zone, separating Israel from the chaos and violence of Syria and Iraq.
Jordan is threatened by the same forces that threaten Israel; Iran’s expansionism, and ISIS terrorism.
The relationship is, in essence, a de facto, unwritten alliance. It is clear that if the Hashemite Kingdom becomes endangered, Israel and the US would act as guarantors of its security.
Security coordination between Jordanian and Israeli military leaders reaches the level of brigade commanders on both sides. They cooperate on identifying terrorist threats, conducting searches, and surveillance activities in an optimal manner.
Jordan’s domestic make-up means that it is in Amman’s interest for these ties to remain under the radar. The country’s Bedouin minority lives side by side with a Palestinian majority, and King Abdullah must maneuver skillfully between internal and external needs.
For this reason, Israel needs to maintain Amman’s position as guardian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
JORDAN’S ECONOMY IS AN ISRAELI SECURITY INTEREST
Jordan’s economic situation has a strong bearing on the Jordanian Royal Court’s stability. This means that Israel has a major interest in helping to improve the Jordanian economy. Israel should fast-track projects that have a positive influence for both countries, such as the bilateral desalination initiative in Eilat and Akaba, which would give Jordan full independence in its ability to have access to clean water.
Israel should also encourage technological growth engines in Jordan. These initiatives are tied to security cooperation, and would open the door to partnerships in the areas of cyber security. Yet such steps would have to be implemented in a low profile manner.
Additionally, Jordan is heavily dependent upon tourism, and should become more of a tourist attraction for Israelis. Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and tourist attractions are also located in Akaba and Wadi Rum in southern Jordan.
FOSTERING A PRO-US REGIONAL BLOC
The pro-Western orientation of the Hashemite Royal Court has led it to maintain long-standing, strong ties with the US.
Jordan is a permanent member of the moderate Sunni bloc, led by Saudi Arabia. This camp includes Egypt and the smaller Gulf states, and it is the axis that is standing against the Iranian threat. Jordan is on the frontline of this threat, due to its long borders with Syria and Iraq.
Ultimately, all of these steps would help strengthen a pro-American Middle Eastern bloc. Like Israel, Jordan has special ties with the US, and not with Russia.
Moscow has, for its part, chosen to partner with Iran, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime in Syria. Therefore, a supreme importance lies in fostering a geo-political system that is anti-Iranian and pro-American, and which is led by Israel and Jordan.
Now is the time for Israel to do all it can to strengthen its peaceful relations with its eastern neighbor, and particularly, to fortify economic ties.
Israel’s clear interest going forward is to ensure that its longest border remains quiet, and that a regional bloc that challenges Iran’s dangerous activities grows stronger.
Edited By Yaakov Lappin
Co-Edited By Benjamin Anthony
Notice: The views expressed above do not represent the views of the IDF or the Foreign Ministry. They are reflective solely of the views of the author.