Jordan under pressure with fighting next door
AMMAN – With the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis Amman finds itself in a difficult position at home and in the region.
Mounting tensions prompted Jordan’s King Abdullah to announce on Sunday that the kingdom was actively involved in intensive diplomatic efforts aimed at reaching a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
The king explained this intensive diplomacy is intended to halt what he characterised as an Israeli military escalation in the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in years.
The monarch, whose ruling family has custodianship of Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, did not elaborate on the diplomatic efforts.
Jordanian government officials have said the kingdom is leading a diplomatic campaign with its European and US allies to put pressure on Israel to end its air and artillery barrage on Gaza since fighting erupted last Monday.
“There are intensive contacts with international parties to halt Israel’s escalation,” the monarch was quoted as saying.
The creation of a Palestinian state on territory Israel captured in 1967 from Jordan that covers the West Bank and East Jerusalem was a pre-requisite for lasting peace, he said.
The Israeli military says that Islamist militant group Hamas and other armed factions have fired more than 2,800 rockets from Gaza over the past week.
Earlier on Sunday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Israel’s actions were pushing the region towards a wider conflict.
“Israel carriesm as the existing occupation forcem responsibility for the dangerous situation in occupied Palestinian land and what it is causing in violence, killings, destruction and suffering,” Safadi said.
Thousands of Jordanians, most of them of Palestinian origin, took to the streets of the capital Amman on Sunday, calling on the kingdom to scrap its peace deal with Israel.
“The government should cut diplomatic ties and expel the Zionist ambassador from Amman,” said Murad al Adaylah, head of Islamic Action Front, the country’s largest opposition group.
“Oh King Abdullah, open the borders,” protesters chanted.
Around half of Jordan’s ten million-strong population is of Palestinian origin, including some 2.2 million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. Relations between the two neighbouring countries have remained cold with demonstrators calling often for the severing of ties with Israel.
In southern Lebanon, hundreds of demonstrators waving Palestinian flags gathered on the Lebanese side of the border with Israel for a third day.