April 4, 2023 | Flash Brief

Jordan’s King Incites Anti-Israel Sentiment

April 4, 2023 | Flash Brief

Jordan’s King Incites Anti-Israel Sentiment

Latest Developments

King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday told a visiting Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, that it was “the duty of every Muslim to deter Israeli escalations against … holy sites in Jerusalem.” The statement comes as hundreds of thousands of Muslims travel to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Abdullah’s rhetoric follows a recent pattern of Jordanian attribution of blaming Israel for violence on the Temple Mount. In reality, Palestinian extremists on the Temple Mount often initiate violence against Israelis during Ramadan. Two years ago, clashes during Ramadan escalated into an 11-day war between Israel and Palestinian terror groups, mainly in Gaza.

Expert Analysis

“Once again, the Jordanian monarch is engaging in rhetoric that might be popular among certain swaths of Jordanian society but could ultimately undermine the vital ties with Israel that keep Jordan safe and stable. Should the Palestinians interpret his statement as a green light to engage in violence against Israel, Jordan may not be immune from the fallout. Jordan’s own Palestinian population could become radicalized. Meanwhile, the patience of the Israeli government is wearing thin. The king must find ways to deescalate for the good of his kingdom and the entire region.” Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Unequal Rights

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), is the third holiest site in Islam. It is also the holiest site in Judaism, where the first and second temples once stood. Jordan took control of the compound during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, but Israel reclaimed the site during the Six-Day War in 1967. Pursuant to the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel in 1994, the Israeli government allowed the Jordanian Jerusalem Islamic Waqf to continue exercising authority over the compound. Under the arrangement, Jews and non-Muslims may visit the Temple Mount during certain hours but are not allowed to pray there.

Warm Peace Growing Cold

Amman has pulled away from Israel in recent years, driven by domestic political considerations, unrealistic expectations, and both legitimate and illegitimate grievances. Its official rhetoric about Israel has grown increasingly negative, if not vitriolic. The same can be observed in Jordan’s government-censored media. And despite ongoing cooperation on a range of challenges, diplomatic ties are often tense.

Jordan effectively sided with Hamas during the May 2021 conflict with Israel by echoing the terrorist group’s talking points that wrongly blamed Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount for sparking the conflict. And during his 2022 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, King Abdullah falsely accused Israelis of threatening Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

Diplomatic Rejectionism

Jordan has made no attempt to hide its rejection of the new regional order marked by Israeli normalization agreements with surrounding Arab states. Shockingly, despite its peace agreement with Israel and its warm relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Jordan refused to send diplomatic representatives to the White House ceremony marking the Abraham Accords in 2020.

Further Analysis

Neither Here Nor There: Jordan and the Abraham Accords,” by Jonathan Schanzer

Israel and Arab Allies Conclude Negev Forum Without Jordan,” FDD Flash Brief


Arab Politics Israel Jordan Palestinian Politics