What was Netanyahu doing in Jordan?

Published January 30th, 2023 - 07:32 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on during a press conference on January 25, 2023. (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

In his first visit to a foreign country since becoming prime minister again, Benjamin Netanyahu chose Jordan to start his foreign policy campaigns. While the first visit was expected to be to Abu Dhabi, that trip was postponed because of the recent escalation in Jerusalem.

Many expect relations between Jordan and Netanyahu’s government to be difficult, or at least not as warm as the previous Lapid government. However, Netanyahu gave a clear message that he is not interested in changing this status of cooperation between the two nations. This could be a result of the work of some Arab countries who have acted as a mediator between Jordan and Netanyahu, including the UAE, which is trying to build a triangle of cooperation in several strategic areas such as energy, transformation and commercial cooperation.

The visit highlighted Netanyahu’s message to Arab countries in peace with Israel and Washington that he has no interest in escalation with any country. His focus is on expanding the circle of peace, adding more countries to his ambitious Arab Israeli peace plan, and focusing on Iran. This visit can be viewed as a political gesture that aims at reassuring the US and his allies. It should also be noted that Netanyahu is playing the role of a moderate amongst extremists in his conservative base in Israeli. He is seeking to promote himself to Jordan, Arab countries and the US as a man of peace who should be supported unless they are prepared to deal with more extremist Israeli governments in the future.

There is no doubt that this trip to Jordan is seen as message of good intentions and a wish to continue the cooperation, but that does not mean that his local policies will necessarily be aligned. Netanyahu’s capacity to contain the expected escalation generated by his government’s policies, or to balance the national interests of Jordan with the agenda of his coalition. Another issue is how Jordan will avoid joining the Abraham Accords, as this might be the core of Netanyahu’s foreign policy going forward. If Jordan wants to assure its interests with this Israeli government, there may be no margin for resistance to join as it is viewed very positively amongst Jordan’s main allies in the Gulf and in Washington.

Jordan is obliged to deal with the current situation with political flexibility to enhance its role in region. This requires a multidimensional policy that maximizes mutual interests with all countries and at the same time, demonstrate that Jordan plays a vital role in regional politics, from active parenthips to bilateral cooperation with bordering countries.

This story has been adapted from its original source.

Amer Al Sabaileh is a professor of International Relations at the University of Jordan.

© Copyright The Jordan Times. All rights reserved.

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