Deal caps Israel-Jordan contacts

THE DECLARATION of non- belligerency by Israel and Jordan yesterday formalised a situation which had existed since 1967. Jordanian forces did not take part in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and King Hussein was only reluctantly and against his better judgement drawn into the 1967 Six-Day war, which saw him lose control of the West Bank and the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Yesterday's meeting was the latest in the remarkable series of agreements and meetings over the past two years, and is yet another building block in the construction of a new Middle East. It is a sign of how far attitudes in the Middle East have changed and how irreversible is the current process.

A deal with Jordan was always going to be the easiest for the Israelis to reach. The two sides had long since enjoyed a modus vivendi. Immediately after Israeli troops surged down to the Jordan river in 1967, the defence minister, Moshe Dayan, ordered that the bridges across the muddy trickle be kept open. This provided a safety valve for the Palestinians on the West Bank who wished to maintain contact with their compatriots on the East Bank. And it ensured that a working relationship was created and maintained between Israeli and Jordanian officials.

Other links, formal and less formal, evolved in practical matters, such as sharing the waters of the Jordan river (although the Jordanians insist that the Israelis have consistently abused agreements reached in the 1950s on water sharing) and in more sensitive ones such as intelligence-sharing on their joint concern, combating Palestinian extremism.

Historically, first the early Zionists and then Israeli leaders looked on the Jordanians as the best of enemies. Papers in the Central Zionist Archives detail minutes of meetings between King Hussein's grandfather, King Abdullah, and Zionist leaders. The first contacts took place with Abdullah's brother, Faisal. He received the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in January 1918. Weizmann first met Abdullah in London in 1922. Regular contacts between Abdullah and, first, Jewish Agency officials (including Golda Meir), and after 1948 with Israeli leaders, continued intermittently until his assassination in Jerusalem in 1951.

There is little reason to suppose that King Hussein did not continue the contacts begun by his revered grandfather, but no documentary evidence of such meetings has been made public. The breakthrough came last September, when the Palestinians and the Israelis reached their accord. This done, the Jordanians could go ahead and make their own agreement without being accused, as they had so often in the past, of betraying Palestinian interests, a charge they found deeply wounding given the fact that Jordan has given sanctuary to so many.

Then on 1 October came the first public meeting between the two men on either side of the Jordan who most resemble each other: Shimon Peres, the Israeli Foreign Minister, and Crown Prince Hassan, King Hussein's younger brother and heir-apparent, and on this occasion his stalking horse. Both have articulated imaginative scenarios for future regional economic co-operation, and both are of intellectual bent.

Now the Palestinians have implemented the first part of their accord. The Israelis have withdrawn forces from the Jericho area, and redeployed within the Gaza Strip. For the first time in over 27 years, Palestinians are not subjected to daily harassment by the Israelis. And the Palestine Liberation Organisation leader, Yasser Arafat, is installed in Gaza.

For the Israelis, however, it has always been the Arab armies on Israel's borders and the missiles and weapons of its enemies beyond, which posed the real threat to Israel's existence. With a non-belligerency pact reached with Jordan, and a peace treaty with Egypt reached in 1979 which has withstood Israel's invasion of Lebanon and other strains, the only real obstacle now to a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is Syria.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable