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July 1, 2016 / 25 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jordan’

What is Happening in Jordan?

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Days ago, King Abdullah II‎ of Jordan dissolved the parliament and appointed a new prime minister.

This came ‎weeks after the king amended the constitution to expand his already swollen authority as the sole ‎ruler, and has launched a wave of speculation in the Western and Israeli media. The media are puzzled and rather clueless about what exactly is happening in my country, Jordan. Some, including respected publications, jumped to the convenient conclusion ‎that the king has “appointed a pro-Israel prime minister” and even that “Israel has a new friend ‎in the Middle East, Jordan’s prime minister.” These statements by ‎themselves are irrelevant to the status quo and the situation in Jordan is much more critical and ‎dire than anyone in the Israeli media realizes.‎

In November 2015, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said ‎Jordan’s future was “not clear” and that Palestinians and Israelis needed to know what will ‎happen in Jordan and “whether Jordan will remain stable” before they resume the peace process. Clinton’s tenure as U.S. secretary of state saw anti-regime protests in Jordan, particularly the November 2012 revolution, ‎when a million Jordanians took to the streets demanding that the Hashemite royals leave the ‎country. She knows more about the reality in Jordan from firsthand experience than any other U.S. presidential candidate.

While Clinton’s statements cannot be taken as prophecies from the Torah or the Quran, the facts on the ‎ground do support her concerns for Jordan. As these lines are being written, unrest continues in the ‎Wadi Mousa-Petra area, including gun battles between the king’s police and the locals, arrests, the ‎destruction of vehicles and other property, stone throwing, and rumors of casualties on both sides. In ‎short, there is an intifada at one of Jordan’s most significant tourist sites.

In addition, anti-regime ‎protests take place every Friday, yards away from the king’s palace. Those protests are not ‎continuous, but they are a regular occurrence and likely to grow. Protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak began in the same ‎way in 2004, and 10,000 protests later, a one-strike revolution toppled him in ‎‎2011, the same year that the current protests in Jordan began.‎

Jordan’s debt-to-GDP ratio is above 90%. Greece’s economy collapsed when it hit ‎the same rate, and the Jordanian regime is not getting the help from Arab states that Greece got from the European Union. Nevertheless, the Jordanian royal family spends beyond belief and is not shy about showing off its opulent lifestyle to its starving subjects.‎

Less than a month ago, Jordan’s king visited the Saudis and came back speaking ‎about billions of Saudi riyals “on the way.” None of this has yet materialized. While these ‎things do take time, Saudi King Salman‎ announced a $25 billion aid package to the el-Sissi regime half an hour ‎after the king’s arrival in Egypt in April. ‎

There are also no signs or news of aid money coming from the ‎Gulf states. Our Arab brothers are wise; they won’t give their money to an ailing regime.‎

On the other hand, the king has been fragile for years now, and many — myself included — have ‎predicted his fall, yet he remains on the throne in Amman. So why should anyone worry that ‎the king might fall now?

In fact, the situation has completely changed.‎

Today, Jordan’s army is independent of the king, and so is Jordan’s intelligence service. Both are tightly coordinated with the U.S. Central Command. When the Islamic State group became a real threat to Jordan, ‎the U.S. must have realized it could no longer tolerate the king’s recklessness, inexperienced ‎handling of security, and mismanagement of Jordan’s military operations and funds. Thus, the ‎U.S. supported separating the army and intelligence apparatus from the king’s influence. This happened trough tight and direct cooperation between the Jordanian and U.S. militaries, and between Jordanian and U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.‎

This new arrangement might explain the record-smooth cooperation between Jordan and Israel on ‎security, which is described in the Israeli media as “unprecedented.” Yes, it is unprecedented, ‎because the king no longer has any influence over the army or intelligence service.‎

Further, the U.S. has announced it is about to finish building a massive security wall separating ‎Jordan from Syria and extending along the Iraqi borders. This little-publicized wall will be fully ‎operational in August, according to its contractor, Raytheon, at a cost of over $500 million. At the same time, Israel is quickly and publicly building a $1 billion wall ‎along its border with Jordan.‎

These measures, taken by the U.S. and Jordanian armies, suggest that both are expecting major change in ‎Jordan. The outcome should be safe; Islamic State cannot take over Jordan with thousands of American soldiers stationed ‎in several major U.S. bases across Jordan. ‎

Meanwhile, Jordan’s king sees firsthand signs that his angry, hungry, and hopeless ‎people could actually topple him, and with him having no control over the army now, the king ‎could face a situation like that of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, which was supported by the ‎Egyptian army.‎

Afraid and helpless, Jordan’s regime has turned to the oldest trick in the book: beating the Israeli ‎drum. The regime knows that if a new intifada breaks out in Israel, this ‎could buy it more time in power; the world would be too busy to let it go and Jordan’s ‎public would be distracted by anti-Israel hatred once again. This might explain why an official Israeli ‎statement on Sept. 21, 2015, confirmed that “Jordan was a major contributor to Temple ‎Mount tension” and accused Jordan’s government of exacerbating tensions in Jerusalem with ‎inciting statements and actions.‎

In November 2014, I published an article in which I warned that Jordan’s regime was ‎planning to set the West Bank and Jerusalem on fire in order to stay in power. Also, a month ‎before the “knife intifada” broke ut, I noted several times on social media that Jordan’s ‎regime was going to launch unrest in Jerusalem itself.‎

Change is coming to Jordan. It could be tomorrow morning or in five years, but the ‎Hashemites already have a one-way ticket out, and it seems they are now purposely ‎causing damage to Jordanian, alestinian, American and Israeli interests. ‎

It is about time the few pro-Hashemite hopeless romantics wake up and smell the strong ‎Jordanian coffee already brewing in Amman.‎

As far as the Israeli government is concerned, it has been clear from the beginning: The Israelis ‎will not be involved in the Arab Spring or its aftermath, and will keep good ties with Jordan’s ‎regime, military and intelligence agencies, without any involvement in Jordan’s internal politics. As ‎Jordan’s opposition, we highly appreciate Israel’s stance and fully understand it.‎

As we expect change in Jordan, we must work hard to make sure Jordan remains committed ‎to peace while it becomes economically prosperous and gives hope to all its citizens.‎

Mudar Zahran

Driver of Norwegian Diplomatic Vehicle Found Smuggling Antiquities to Jordan

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Inspectors at the Allenby Crossing uncovered 10 kilograms of ancient figurines and coins during a routine inspection last week.

The treasure trove was discovered on May 31 during a search of a Mercedes car that was driven on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, which owned the vehicle.

The artifacts were apparently hidden behind the side panels of the car, wrapped in cartons.

The driver, Issa Nagam of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, is suspected of smuggling the antiquities. He was arrested and released under restrictive conditions by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Justice Karen Miller.

The Customs Investigation Unit and the Jerusalem Tax Authority is involved with the investigation of this case.

Hana Levi Julian

Landmines Exploded Near Karnei Shomron

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

On Friday, high temperatures caused landmines planted around the eastern edge of the town of Karnei Shomron to explode.

The explosion set off wildfires that traveled up a nearby mountain and destroyed 4 homes in the Ramat Gilad neighborhood. The entire neighborhood was evacuated while firefighters tried to stop the blaze.

Apparently, the Jordanians had planted land mines in the area some 50 or 60 years ago when they illegally occupied the region. Until the landmines exploded on Friday, no one knew they were there.

H/T The Muqata

Jewish Press News Briefs

Is Jerusalem Truly Israel’s Capital?

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

Since 2006 there are no foreign embassies in Jerusalem. This obviously reflects the reluctance of the entire world that does have diplomatic relations with the Jewish State to recognize its ownership of Jerusalem. It is a unique phenomenon in world affairs. Not only do the nations of the world not accept Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, the international community also regards about half of it, eastern Jerusalem, including the entire Old City, as part of the “occupied Palestinian territories,” and no one officially recognizes western Jerusalem as part of the territory of Israel either.

Under the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1947, Jerusalem was going to be an international territory administered by the United Nations. In the 1948 war, the western part of the city was occupied by Israel, the eastern part by Jordan. And since the international community relies on the 1947 UN partition plan regarding the legal status of Jerusalem, it refuses to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city.

Israel, obviously, feels very differently about this matter: On December 5, 1949, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in July 1980 Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, as part of its constitutional Basic Laws, declaring Jerusalem the “complete and united” capital of Israel.

Jerusalem, which for the first 19 years of the state was a remote, unsafe (Jordanian snipers), small and joyless (Tel Aviv ruled), was transformed after the 1967 liberation of the Old City and the holy sites, exactly 49 years ago Sunday. Today 10% of Israelis live in Jerusalem — 850,000, twice as many as live in Tel Aviv, three times as do in Haifa.

When King David conquered the city and purchased the top of Temple Mount, just under 3,000 years ago, the entire city area was probably about 60 hectares. Today it is about 2,000 times larger, with 125,156 hectares included in the Jerusalem municipality.

The first university in the Land of Israel, Hebrew University, was established in Jerusalem, in 1925. Today 17% of Israeli university students study there, and 26% of the Ph.D. candidates.

Many Israeli national institutions are located in the Government District in Givat Ram in Jerusalem, as a part of the National District. Some government buildings are located in the Menachem Begin District. The city is home to the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Bank of Israel, the National Headquarters of the Israel Police, the official residences of the President and Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and all ministries except for the Ministry of Defense (Tel Aviv) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Rishon LeZion).

And so it is clear that no other issue separates Israel from the rest of the world as radically as that of Jerusalem’s status. Most Israelis born after 1967 naturally view Jerusalem as their unquestionable capital. Leftwing Israelis who would agree to handing over some or all of eastern Jerusalem to a future independent Palestinian entity, are probably not aware of the fact that the world does not differentiate between eastern and western Jerusalem, and regards neither as naturally belonging to Israel, never mind recognizing them as its capital.

JNi.Media

Minister Ariel: Liberman’s 2-State Statement Nothing More than ‘Verbal Maneuvering’

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) appeared on journalist Aryeh Golan’s Israel Radio morning show Wednesday in response to the surprising statements—first by the new defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) that he was all in favor of the two-state solution, followed by the cooing response of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared eager to get together and chat peace with comrade Yvette.

And so, Aryeh Golan opened: “Mahmoud Abbas is saying if Liberman supports the two-state solution there’s no reason not to meet him. [Ma’alot-Tarshiha Mayor] Shlomo Bohbot [who met with Abbas on Tuesday, along with other Galilee regional council heads] says, I found an amazing man. Lieberman says the wholeness of the nation takes precedence over the wholeness of the land. You hear new voices from both sides regarding a meeting, [renewed] negotiations?”

“We’ve already seen Mr. Liberman speaking this way one time, that way another, presumably in accordance with international pressure and other factors,” Ariel answered. “I would have preferred it to be different, but these are the facts.” He advised: “Talks are not a scary thing. The question is what do we say during the talks.”

Golan: Prime Minister Netanyahu sounded as if he approves the Saudi initiative, ahead of the [Paris] foreign ministers conference Friday.

Ariel: I’ve said it in the past, this is not the position of the government, nor the Likud, nor any authorized political entity.

Golan: The Prime Minster is not authorized enough?

Ariel: He is first among equals. There is no decision at all, not political, not by any party, not national, certainly not in the Knesset. On the contrary, last year MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) tried to pass the Arab initiative in the Knesset and the Likud rejected it.

“I see here a verbal maneuvering,” Ariel added. “I’m sorry it’s been done, I would have preferred that he [didn’t do it] but for that you have Habayit Hayehudi — why are we here? — To speak the truth.”

Golan: And should the Prime Minister embrace the French initiative? Do you agree with Liberman’s statement (originally made by the late Rv Ovadia Yosef) that the wholeness of the nations takes precedence over the wholeness of the land?

That was Liberman’s signal slogan upon entering office this week: he cares more about national cohesiveness than about territories. That’s usually something politicians say just before making some section of the national whole really miserable (see Gush Katif in a Google search near you).

Ariel: In my opinion the French initiative is totally screwed up at its foundation. It sets an end date [for the talks]. So that the other side can just linger, play for time, until the date arrives and then Israel is to blame. Which is why the PM does not agree with the French initiative. He talks about direct negotiations about which, in this context, he is certainly right, it’s better this way — the way the peace agreements with Jordan and with Egypt were reached, in direct talks between us and the Arabs and not through others.

“As to the statement about the wholeness of the nation — there’s no contradiction here,” Ariel insisted. “It’s comparing two unequal terms, like it’s better to eat spaghetti than to dance the waltz. It’s true, but so what? It doesn’t work this way.”

“We’re about to celebrate Jerusalem Liberation Day on Sunday,” Ariel pointed out. “We’ve been in the territories for 48 years. Jordan had been there only 19 years. The slogan sounds nice, but, again, it’s a verbal maneuver in ever-changing situations.”

So, at least while Habayit Hayehudi is in government, those territories are non-negotiable. Unless you like spaghetti with your waltz.

JNi.Media

Jordan’s New ‘Pro-Israel’ Prime Minister Hani Fawi al-Mulki

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Newly appointed Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Fawzi al-Mulki has been described in the pan-Arab media outlet Al Jazeera as having “strong Israeli ties.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II dissolved his country’s Parliament by royal decree this past Sunday, and accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Abbdullah Ensour. Veteran politician Hani Mulki was appointed to become Jordan’s new prime minister, and charged by King Abdullah to set up new elections in October.

The decree followed a week of protests that followed an extraordinary parliamentary day (May 22) in which Jordanian legislators had voted during a morning session to exclude Israel from the Jordanian Investment Fund, according to Albawaba. But in the evening session, a re-vote was called, and the majority of parliament members instead voted to allow Israeli involvement. The Jordanian monarch dissolved the parliament at the end of the week.

Former senior government aide Husam Abdallah told Al Jazeera on Monday (May 30) that Mulki will most likely be tasked with bringing together Israel and the Palestinian Authority for final status talks.

“Mulki will be working to bring Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiation table and work to bring a final solution to the Palestinian cause which will most likely be at the expense of the Palestinian people,” he said.

The new prime minister previously chaired the Jordanian government committee that has been responsible for negotiations with Israel over the past 20 years.

Hana Levi Julian

Jordan’s King Dissolves Parliament, Stifles Riots Over Approval of Israeli Investment

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Jordan’s King Abdullah II dissolved his country’s Parliament by royal decree on Sunday, and accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Abbdullah Ensour.

Reuters reported it was the end of the legislative body’s four-year term. But the move also had the effect of breaking week-long protests, and riots on Friday by hundreds of residents in the ancient city of Petra — a major tourist attraction — where Jordanians allegedly were rampaging over “fraudulent investments,” according to the English-language Jordan Times.

Veteran politician Hani Mulqi was appointed to become Jordan’s new prime minister, and charged by King Abdullah to set up new elections in October.

The decree came barely a week after an extraordinary session in which the Jordanian Parliament voted to allow Israeli companies to invest in the country. At the time, the king endorsed the decision and issued a decree to end the session at the end of last week, according to Albawaba. The vote was considered very controversial and there was widespread public outcry following the session. Specifically, the Jordanian Parliament voted not to exclude Israel from its National Investment Fund.

Originally, last Sunday morning (May 22) Parliament members had voted to exclude Israel from the Jordanian Investment Fund. But in the evening session, a re-vote was called, and the majority of parliament members instead voted to allow Israeli involvement.

“In a particularly shocking turn in the struggle over the new investment law, several vocally pro-Palestine politicians voted in favor of trade with Israel,” Albawaba reported.

“Among them was Rodaina Al Ati, a member of Jordan’s Palestine Committee who has made a name for herself by supporting the Palestinian cause. Jordan’s Arab Progressive Baath Party expelled Al Ati for her vote, and social media users launched a campaign of ridicule and criticism against her.”

The Jordanian Investment Law establishes the Jordan Investment Fund, which oversees development projects and those which foreign funds can invest in. The decision to allow Israel to participate in the fund was seen as a blow to the BDS (boycott, divest and sanctions) movement.

The primary opposition to the monarchy in Jordan is that of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

However, according to Reuters it was tribal lawmakers who has dominated the last parliament, resisting any change that might have undermined their influence or sabotaged their ability to control the legislative body. The system favors those tribal regions which are sparsely populated and which benefit most from state patronage, and the support of the monarchy, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper pointed out.

The reversal of the original decision has provoked outrage in Jordan, inasmuch as it also enables foreign companies to invest in Jordan.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jordans-king-dissolves-parliament-stifles-riots-over-approval-of-israeli-investment/2016/05/29/

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