Middle East Eye / July 8, 2021
Israeli prime minister visited Amman last week where the two leaders discussed Jordan’s severe water shortage.
Bennett, who took office less than a month ago, reportedly travelled to meet Abdullah in Amman last Tuesday, where they discussed the severe water shortage in Jordan and potential Israeli aid, Haaretz reported.
The report of the meeting, which was first carried by Walla News on Thursday, came hours after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi.
The foreign ministers announced a deal for Israel to supply Jordan with 50 million cubic metres of water as it battles a severe drought.
According to Walla News, last week’s meeting was largely positive, and Bennett informed Abdullah of Israel’s decision to boost water exports to Jordan.
The meeting marked the first time Abdullah met an Israeli prime minister since he hosted Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. That meeting was also held in secret and only announced later.
Still, Israeli media reports on Thursday indicated that Jordanian officials were unhappy with the meeting being leaked since it was held on the contingency of secrecy.
A government source told Channel 12 News that the news had “embarrassed the king and it will definitely affect the ties between the nations, after a new page was seemingly turned”.
A spokesman for the Jordanian embassy in the United States declined a request for comment on the matter.
In February, Defence Minister Benny Gantz reportedly met secretly with Abdullah in Jordan. According to reports, Abdullah had refused to meet with Netanyahu, whom he strongly disliked.
Relations between the two countries became strained in recent years, largely due to Netanyahu’s plan in 2020 to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
Tensions intensified earlier this year when Israeli authorities cancelled Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah’s visit to al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.
The next day, Amman denied Netanyahu’s helicopter access to Jordanian airspace, which caused the prime minister to cancel his trip to the United Arab Emirates. Though Jordan gave Netanyahu clearance to fly through its airspace after several hours, he decided not to fly to the UAE.
Then in April, Israel delayed a request to increase the water supply to Jordan, reportedly in retaliation for Jordan interfering with Netanyahu’s plans to travel to Abu Dhabi. Middle East Eye could not independently confirm such a motive.
The Jordanian king is slated to meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House on 19 July. According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the two will discuss “Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.”