Towards a confrontation between the Netanyahu government and the Hashemite kingdom?

Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu conveyed to King Abdullah of Jordan a reassuring message that he has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. The Jordanian king is very afraid of Netanyahu's return to power and the participation of Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in the new government, in Jerusalem they say that Netanyahu will maintain peaceful relations with Jordan.

Political officials in Jerusalem said that Prime Minister elect Binyamin Netanyahu has in recent days conveyed a reassuring message to King Abdullah of Jordan that he has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The message was delivered following Jordanian concerns about the inclusion of Knesset members Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in the Netanyahu government in sensitive security positions.

Jordanian sources say that King Abdullah sent messages of warning to Prime Minister Netanyahu that if the status quo on the Temple Mount is violated, relations between Jordan and Israel will be damaged and this could lead to a large and violent outbreak by the Palestinians.

The Jordanian press was full last week of articles warning against Netanyahu’s return to power and its consequences on Israel-Jordan relations.

Netanyahu’s relationship with the Hashemite Kingdom is characterized by mutual mistrust, during Netanyahu’s term as Prime Minister King Abdullah said that relations between the two countries had reached a deep low, the prominent disputes between the Netanyahu government and the Jordanian royal house culminated in Jordan’s strong opposition to President Trump’s “deal of the century” and the annexation of large parts of the West Bank to Israel.

What is King Abdullah afraid of?

A. King Abdullah did not hide his distaste for the possibility of Netanyahu’s return to power and gave this a public expression in several statements. In the past year, he tightened ties with Prime Ministers Bennett and Lapid and with Defense Minister Gantz to emphasize the difference in his attitude towards them compared to his attitude towards Netanyahu.
Now the king will have to deal with the results of the Israeli elections in which Netanyahu won.

B. The loss of custodian ship of the Temple Mount – King Abdullah fears that Netanyahu will lead to the denial of the special status that Jordan has in the holy places in Jerusalem as required by the peace agreement between the two countries from 1994 and to give Saudi Arbia foothold on the Temple Mount in exchange for normalizing relations with it.

He is also concerned about the possibility that Itamar Ben Gvir, the designated Minister of Internal Security, will violate the status quo on the Temple Mount, build a synagogue there and allow prayers for Jews.

C. Annexation of territories in the West Bank – The Jordanian king is afraid that Netanyahu will take unilateral steps to annex territories in the West Bank to the State of Israel and especially the territories of the Jordan Valley, which will lead to the migration of Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan.

D. The loss of the two-state option – King Abdullah of Jordan fears that Netanyahu, who opposes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, seeks to perpetuate Israel’s rule and de facto annex the West Bank.

He is also afraid of the possibility that Netanyahu will revive the idea that “Jordan is Palestine”.

E. Stopping the supply of water to Jordan- – the king fears that Netanyahu will use the water that Israel supplies to Jordan to try and squeeze political concessions from Jordan.

D. Reviving the idea of the former president Trump of “Deal of the Century”
if Trump is re-elected to the post of President of the United States.

King Abdullah relies on an international umbrella that protects him and includes the Biden administration, Russia and China, as well as Egypt and the Gulf countries that will restrain the Netanyahu government.

During the Bennett and Lapid governments, there was stability in Israel’s relations with Jordan, but the tensions on the Temple Mount continued, now Jordan is afraid that the right-wing government will increase the visits of Jews to the Temple Mount and will try to determine new facts in the holy complex that will lead to a heated atmosphere.

According to Jordanian officials, the Hashemite kingdom is preparing for a confrontation in relations with the Netanyahu government, the atmosphere in the royal house is pessimistic and it is possible that relations with Israel will once again return to an unprecedented low.

However, the two countries have common security interests that the two leaders cannot ignore. There have been several crises in Israel-Jordan relations, but ultimately the two countries want to maintain the peace agreement between them. Political officials in Jerusalem estimate that despite the ups and downs in Israel-Jordan relations, Jordan’s fear of the presence of Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in the Netanyahu government is exaggerated and that Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu will know how to restrain them if necessary, Netanyahu is not interested in worsening relations with Jordan or changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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