Israel is increasing its diplomatic outreach to Jordan amid anger in Amman over a speech by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich dismissing Palestinian peoplehood and displaying a map of the Hashemite Kingdom within the Jewish state’s borders.
“We are working to send conciliatory messages,” an Israeli diplomat told The Times of Israel. “Israel’s connection with Jordan is crucial for regional calm and stability.”
The official said that Jerusalem “understands Jordan’s sensitivities” and that the Foreign Ministry is following the government’s policy of strengthening ties with Amman.
A majority of Jordan’s population is Palestinian.
On Wednesday, Jordan’s parliament recommended expelling Israeli Ambassador Eitan Surkis. House of Representatives Speaker Ahmed al-Safadi was quoted as saying Smotrich’s map of “so-called Israel” that includes the borders of Jordan and Judea and Samaria “cannot be tolerated, and constitutes a violation of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel signed in 1994, and of international norms.”
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry summoned Surkis on Monday in protest of the “Greater Israel” map and denial of the existence of a Palestinian people.
“We condemn the racist, inciting and extremist statements by the extremist Israeli minister against the Palestinian people and its right to exist,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
In a Twitter post on Monday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry reaffirmed Jerusalem’s commitment to the peace treaty.
“Israel is committed to the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan. There has been no change in the position of the State of Israel, which recognizes the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom,” the tweet read.
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi performed diplomatic damage control, tweeting that he had spoken with Jordanian al-Safadi and assured him “of the commitment the government of Israel has to uphold the peace treaty between our two countries which has strengthened the stability and the security of our region for nearly 30 years.”
Smotrich said in a speech in Paris on Sunday night that “there is no such thing as Palestinians. … We need to tell the truth without bowing to the lies and distortions of history, and without succumbing to the hypocrisy of BDS and the pro-Palestinian organizations.”