Former Top Israeli Official: Jordan, Egypt Remain Committed to Peace Treaties

Published August 8th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A former senior Israeli foreign ministry official said Wednesday that Jordan and Egypt had maintained a balance between their pro-Palestinian stands and their strategies of sustaining “correct” political relations with Israel. 

Former director general of the ministry Reuven Merhav told the Jerusalem Post that despite rising anti-Israeli sentiments in both countries, and declared official stands against the Israeli policies regarding the conflict with the Palestinians, both countries were still firmly committed to the peace accords as part of their strategic Middle East policies. 

The killing of an Israeli businessman in Amman on Tuesday and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher's description of the Israeli government as a "gang of assassins" for its policy of "targeted killings" have raised questions about the state of relations with those two countries, according to the paper.  

However, according to the former official, Amman and Cairo “walk a diplomatic tightrope in which they are seen and heard denouncing what they describe as Israel's policies of brutal aggression, while maintaining nominal ties.”  

According to Merhav, this diplomatic dilemma is more pronounced in Jordan, where at least two-thirds of the population is Palestinian and many citizens have relatives living in the West Bank and Gaza.  

Despite this, Israeli visitors to Jordan have been treated well and organized groups of tourists have been given security escorts to ensure their safety.  

"In fact, out of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have visited Jordan during the seven years of full diplomatic relations, this is the first time I can recall that an Israeli citizen - not a diplomat - has been targeted," he said.  

"On the other hand, there have been a number of incidents in Egypt... where Israeli visitors, as well as diplomats, were specifically targeted, quite apart from the attacks on Western tourists generally by … fundamentalist organizations."  

"The regimes in Jordan and Egypt are anxious to keep their respective peace treaties, which are strategically important to them. They guarantee continued support from the US and drastically diminish the risk of any military conflict with Israel, enabling them to divert more resources to internal development," said Merhav. 

Despite US and Israeli pressures, Egypt refuses to name a new ambassador to Israel after withdrawing its former envoy, Mohammad Bassiouni, and appointing him as member of the consultative Shura Council.  

Furthermore, an appointed Jordanian ambassador to Tel Aviv has not started his mission, in protest of Israel's excessive use of force against the Palestinians. 

Since the September 2000 eruption of the latest Palestinian uprising against 34 years of Israeli military occupation, AFP estimates that Palestinians have killed 128 Israelis with weapons ranging from stones and knives to machineguns and car bombs. Israeli military sources have reported well over 600 injuries to Israelis of Jewish descent.  

In the same time period, according to AFP, Israeli soldiers and armed Jewish settlers have killed 13 Arab Israelis and 540 Palestinians with weapons ranging from machineguns and tanks to US-made Apache helicopter gunships and F-16s.  

According to an Amnesty International report issued early this year, nearly 100 of the Palestinians killed were children. In addition, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society has reported over 14,000 Palestinians wounded.  

Jewish author Noam Chomsky, who according to a New York Times Book Review article is “arguably the most important intellectual alive,” has been quoted as saying: “State terrorism is an extreme form of terrorism, generally much worse than individual terrorism because it has the resources of a state behind it.” – Albawaba.com

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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