Jordanian Envoy Returns to Israel Against Backdrop of Security, Water Cooperation

The Jordanian government announced on Monday that its ambassador to Israel will return to Tel Aviv. According to The New York Times, the ambassador, Walid Obeidat, is scheduled to arrive back in Israel this week. The Jerusalem Post reported that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Jordanian decision, calling it ‘an important step that reflects Israeli-Jordanian joint interests, first and foremost stability, security and peace.’” In November of last year, the Jordanian government recalled its ambassador over tensions on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, over which Jordan holds custodial rights. Despite the absence of the ambassador, the Jordanian embassy in Tel Aviv remained open.

Jordan and Israel have a history of shared cooperation on a range of issues, from security and economic ties to water scarcity and tourism. Israel and Jordan formally signed a peace treaty in 1994. In June 2014, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) expanded in Iraq and parts of Syria, journalist Yossi Melman wrote, “With the advancement of radical Sunni forces from Iraq toward Jordan’s borders, the clandestine cooperation and consultations between Israel and Jordan are increasing.” Last June, a Jordanian diplomatic source told Ynet that “there is a very good cooperation between us regarding ISIS’ growing presence in Iraq and Syria, but also on issues relating to other radical forces in the Middle East which have their sights set on Israel and Jordan.” Neri Zilber, a visiting scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that “there is an unwritten, unspoken kind of Israeli commitment that if Jordan were ever in serious trouble … Israel at a certain point would take action and come to Jordan’s aid. Jordan is a massive strategic asset to Israel.”

In 2013, over 200,000 Israelis visited Jordan and 18,000 Jordanians visited Israel. 24 flights per week fly out of Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel into Jordan to accommodate the flow of tourism. In December 2013, Israel and Jordan reached an agreement over water allocation with Israel providing Jordan “8-13 billion gallons per year of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee, while Jordan would deliver the same amount of desalinated water pumped from Aqaba to Israel’s Negev desert region.”

[Photo: Jejen Peace / YouTube ]