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Jordan’s absence from the Sharm el-Sheikh and the Negev summits… Exclusion or self-distancing?

- Jordan missed two regional summits within a week in Sharm el-Sheikh and the Negev, in which Israel and Arab countries participated. The kingdom remained silent, and King Abdullah met Abbas in Ramallah on Monday in conjunction with the Negev meeting

- Mousa Burayzat (former politician and diplomat): Exclusion is possible, as Jordan no longer has the papers of the Palestinian file, and it is in the hands of the Palestinians and the United States, and no Arab country has any influence on this file

- Fayez Al-Fayez (analyst): Jordan refuses to enter into any normalization camps with Israel at the expense of the issue and does not consider itself part of an alliance in which the Palestinians are not the party and will not bring about the birth of a fully-fledged Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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Dubai, UAE: Within one week, Jordan missed two regional summits in which Israel and Arab countries participated, despite the kingdom’s close association with the Palestinian cause.

On March 22, the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea witnessed a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Jordan did not participate in this summit, which was repeated in what was known as the Negev Summit in southern Israel, on Sunday and Monday, and brought together the foreign ministers of Israel, the United States, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. Jordan has the same position as Egypt with regard to the relationship with Israel, which has a peace treaty with them.

Amman remained silent about not participating in the two summits, while an academic suggested that Jordan was invited and apologized for not attending, “Our beloved Jordan went through a difficult [development] and an unfortunate chapter last year, [but] the country overcame this thanks to your wisdom, patience and tolerance,” he wrote as reported by Dubai’s Al-Arabia.

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On the other hand, a former diplomat considered that Jordan’s exclusion from the two summits is possible. Because “there is no influence of any Arab country on the Palestinian file,” while an analyst confirmed that “Jordan refuses to enter into any normalization camps with Israel at the expense of the cause.”

In March 2013, Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed an agreement giving the kingdom the right to “guardianship and defense of Jerusalem and the holy sites” in Palestine.

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And the Jerusalem Endowments Department, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Endowments, Sanctuaries and Islamic Affairs in Jordan, is the official supervisor of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Endowments for (East) Jerusalem, according to international law, which considers Jordan the last local authority supervising those holy sites before the formation of Israel.

Jordan retained its right to supervise religious affairs in Jerusalem under the Wadi Araba peace agreement it signed with Israel in 1994.

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Has Jordan been invited to these two meetings?

There is a “political goal behind this to keep the Kingdom away from the Palestinian issue. Jordan’s position is not compatible with and differs from the assembled countries.”

Jordan was invited and apologized for not attending, as the incubating environment for these negotiations and meetings is uncomfortable for the Kingdom.

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On March 10, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited Amman and met King Abdullah, reports Jerusalem Post.

Jordan is not reassured about what the Israeli government is doing, despite the apparent rapprochement recently. The outcomes of the recent meetings between Amman and Jerusalem did not satisfy Jordan, so Israel sought conferences outside the framework of his presence (…) Jordan is not confident in the Israeli government.

The absence of Jordan and Palestine, which are geopolitically and demographically linked, makes these meetings lose their value because they are the stakeholders. These meetings cannot in any way diminish Jordan’s role, and the evidence is the King’s meeting with Abbas today.

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In conjunction with the Negev Summit, King Abdullah and Abbas met in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, on Monday, in the first visit by the King of Jordan since 2017.

Incoming exclusion

The former Jordanian politician and diplomat, Mousa Burayzat, said that “absence from the two meetings may be a Jordanian option, and this is what I prefer.”

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Burayzat added to The Eastern Herald that “exclusion is possible, Jordan no longer owns the papers of the Palestinian file, and it is in the hands of the Palestinians and the United States, and there is no influence for any Arab country on the file.”

Burayzat added, “I think that Jordan wanted to distance itself from these meetings, due to public opinion considerations.”

He believed that “part of these meetings relate to mobilizing to support the European and American position in Ukraine, and the other relates to arrangements for the regional situation.”

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Since February 24, Russia has launched a military operation in its neighbor Ukraine, prompting many countries, including the United States, to impose economic, financial and diplomatic sanctions on Moscow.

And Burayzat added: “The Arab countries that are party to the meeting, in essence, are not in favor of Jordan’s guardianship of Jerusalem and the holy sites, and they have a vision and ambition that is different from that of the Kingdom.”

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He continued, “The only Islamic president who supports Jordan’s position is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Regarding the coincidence of the King and Abbas meeting with the Negev summit, Burayzat said, “The king always wants to hear President Abbas’ point of view and hear his point of view regarding what is proposed for the Palestinian-Israeli relationship.”

Jordanian rejection

As for the writer and political analyst, Fayez Al-Fayez, he told The Eastern Herald, based on private information, that “Jordan refused to participate in the Negev summit, and there were serious attempts to convince him until Saturday evening.

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He attributed Jordan’s refusal to the fact that it “does not consider itself part of an alliance in which the Palestinians are not the party and will not bring about the birth of a fully-fledged Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

He continued, “Jordan opposed American dictates during the previous administration (under the leadership of Donald Trump between 2017 and 2021), and is still committed to the Jerusalem file.”

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He added: “The irony is that the ministerial meeting in the Negev came after the announcement of King Abdullah’s visit to Ramallah and his meeting with Abbas, in which Lapid sought to be a party and his efforts failed.”

He added, “The timing of the visit came in anticipation of the outcomes of the Negev Summit, and in light of the lack of seriousness on the part of the Israeli side to negotiate with the Palestinian leadership to reach understandings about a truce in the holy month of Ramadan.”

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He explained that “Jordan fears the outbreak of confrontations during Ramadan (the astronomical start of next Saturday), which has long witnessed in previous years violent confrontations from the Israeli authorities with worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

On Monday, the six foreign ministers ended their two-day meetings in the Negev, declaring the continued strengthening of relations between them, and the establishment of a “permanent forum among the participating countries.”

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Al-Fayez believed that “the outcomes of the Negev did not bring anything new despite the ministers’ statements based on hopes that are seen as unhelpful for the Palestinian people.”

And he added: “The focus has been on the Iranian file and the mobilization by Israel and supported by the United States to confront the so-called Iranian threat.

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Regional and Western capitals accuse Iran of having an expansionist agenda in the region and of interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries, while Tehran says it is committed to good neighborly relations.

And he considered that “the absence of Jordan, the main player, sends a message to everyone that it is the closest to the Palestinian file and is fully concerned with a solution with regard to the Palestinian issue.”

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He stressed that “Jordan’s role cannot be overlooked with the participation of any of the parties, which is the older brother who takes care of the affairs of its western neighbor (Palestine), apart from its commitment to Islamic and Christian sanctities and the Hashemite guardianship.”

He pointed out King Abdullah’s words during his meeting with Abbas, in Ramallah on Monday, “We and the Palestinians are closest to each other and in the same trench.”

Al-Fayez concluded, “Those who scrutinize this statement are fully aware that Amman refuses to enter into any normalization camps with Israel at the expense of the cause.”

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Author

Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Counter-terrorism expert, research scholar and editor of The Eastern Herald.

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