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Israel-Jordan Relations:
Overview of Bilateral Cooperation


Israel-Jordan Relations: Table of Contents | Peace Treaty | Water Cooperation


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The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, signed at the Aqaba-Eilat border crossing (October 1994), was preceded by a meeting of King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington three months earlier when the two leaders proclaimed an end to the state of war between their countries.

Although de facto at war with each other for 46 years, Israel and Jordan had maintained secret contacts and concluded mutually beneficial agreements throughout that entire period. The 1991 Madrid Conference led to public bilateral talks, culminating in a formal treaty (1994) in which both countries have undertaken to refrain from acts of belligerency, to ensure that no threats of violence to the other will originate within their territory, to endeavor to prevent terrorism and act together to achieve security and cooperation in the Middle East by replacing military preparedness with confidence-building measures. Other provisions include agreed allocations from existing water resources, freedom of passage for nationals of both countries, efforts to alleviate the refugee problem and cooperation in the development of the Jordan Rift Valley. The international boundary delineated in the treaty has replaced the 1949 cease-fire lines and is delimited with reference to the British Mandate boundary (1922-48).

With the ratification of the peace treaty, full diplomatic relations were established and, since then, the relationship between Israel and Jordan has been moving forward steadily.

The basis for implementation of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was established with the signing and ratification of 15 bilateral agreements in economic, scientific and cultural spheres. These treaties are to serve as the foundation of peaceful relations between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The most significant expression of the peaceful relations is QIZ. (Qualifying Industrial Zones) which enables Jordan, via cooperation with Israel, to export to the U.S. quota-free and tariff-free commodities worth some $200 million. Israel is also cooperating with Jordan in two agricultural projects and in public health.

King Abdullah II, who succeeded his father in March 1999, visited Israel in April 2000. Following the outbreak of Palestinian violence (September 2000) in the territories, relations with Jordan cooled and Jordan recalled its ambassador.

In June 2003, King Abdullah II hosted a summit in Aqaba with President Bush and with Prime Ministers Sharon and Abu-Mazen. In April 2004, King Abdullah II visited Prime Minister Sharon at his residence in the Negev.

A joint Israeli-Jordanian exercise to practice responding to pollution in the Red Sea was staged on November 22, 2004, in the Eilat-Aqaba Bay. Israel sent 14 ships, members of the water-pollution-unit in Eilat, and workers of the Environment Ministry to participate.

In 2005, bilateral cooperation increased as officials met to discuss a variety of issues including cooperation in fighting the spread of bird flu. Jordanian exports to Israel grew and Jordan’s ambassador returned to Israel after a five-year absence to protest Israel’s policies in the territories.

American based company Noble Energy inked a deal with Jordanian National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) in late 2014 to supply Jordan with $15 billion in gas from Israeli oil fields over a 15 year period.  Noble Energy owns 39% of the Israeli Leviathan oil field, located off of the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea about 80 miles west of Haifa.  Jordan will receive the gas through a terminal that will be opened in mid 2015.  Jordanian officials are skeptical about relying on foreign sources for so much of their oil needs; according to the chair of the Jordanian Senate Energy Committee "Jordan should focus on local resources. We should never be dependent on external resources". 

Senior Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian representatives signed a water sharing agreement in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on December 9 2013 that was heralded as a milestone of cooperation between all parties involved.  The agreement was made official at The World Bank Headquarters and was signed by H.E. Minister Silvan Shalom for Israel, H.E. Minister Hazim El-Naser for Jordan and H.E. Minister Shaddad Attilifor for the Palestinian Authority.  Within the MoU are three major regional water sharing initiatives that will support the management of scarce water resources in the region and contribute to the development and discovery of new water resources.  The agreement includes plans for the construction of an 80 million cubic meter sea water desalination plant in Aqaba on the Red Sea to provide water that will be shared between the three represented entities, and also provides for increased sales of water to Jordan from Israel's Like Tiberias.  Construction on the sea water desalination plant is set to begin in mid 2015. 

Following tense weeks of riots in Jerusalem surrounding access to the Temple Mount and the Al-Aksa Mosque, on November 1 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in secret with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Jordan's capital city of Amman.  During the meeting Netanyahu and King Abdullah discussed security at the Temple Mount and the Al-Aksa Mosque: members of the Jordanian Waqf Authority are stationed at the Al-Aksa Mosque and help provide security.  The purpose of this meeting was to coordinate security measures at the holy site between the Jordainain Waqf Authority and the IDF.  A few days after the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu called King Abdullah and assured him that the Jordanian special status at the Temple Mount will not change due to recent developments.  Both leaders called for an immediate cessation of late 2014's violence surrounding access to the Temple Mount. Following this meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with the two leaders in Jordan and stated that everyone involved was interested in de-escalating the situation. 

In response to violence at the Temple Mount, Jordan recalled their ambassador from Israel on Wednesday November 5 for the first time since Jordan and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1994. The streets of Jordan filled with protestors on November 6 and 7, calling for the government to scrap its peace deal with the Israelis in light of the recent tensions surrounding the Al-Aksa Mosque.  Sheikh Hamam, the leader of the government opposition Muslim Brotherhood party called for the destruction of the Israeli embassy in Jordan "along with everyone in it". 

Since 2009 Israel has seen a dramatic increase in the number and percentage of tourists visiting from Arab countries, signaling a warming of relations between Israel and the moderate Arab world despite the looming possibility of a nuclear Iran. Over 250,000 individuals have come to visit Israel since 2009 from Arab and majority Muslim countries, including 81,000 individuals from Jordan.  Other Arab countries that contributed to this increased tourism in Israel are Indonesia (124,000 tourists), Malaysia (23,483), Saudi Arabia (38), The United Arab Emirates (168), and Qatar and Oman (147). 

Israel and Jordan have formed a mutually beneficial relationship following 1994's formal treaty between the two countries.  The total trade in 2013 between Israel and Jordan amounted to $366 million, which shows that the relationship is going strong 20 years after the initial treaty. 


Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Khaleej Times Online, (December 17, 2005); Carol Migdalovitz, “Israel: Background and Relations with the United States,” DC: Congressional Research Service, (July 26, 2006), The Jordan Times (September 25, 2014); Haaretz (November 6, 2014); LA Times (November 14 2014); Ynet News, "Israel sees sharp rise in tourists from Arab states".  (November 16 2014)

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