Jordan

(formerly Transjordan)
   The Hashemite kingdom of Jordan is Israel's neighbor to the east with which it has fought in several wars and with which it has been in a formal state of peace since 1994. Following the War of Independence (1948—49), Jordan and Israel signed an armistice agreement that established the de facto frontiers between the two states during the period from 1949 to 1967. During the war, Jordan occupied a portion of the territory of the Palestine mandate that had been allocated by the United Nations Partition Plan (see PALESTINE PARTITION PLAN) to the Arab state of Palestine and retained control of that area that became known as the West Bank as well as the eastern part of Jerusalem (including the old city). It later annexed that territory. The frontier between the two states varied from peaceful to one across which raids and reprisals took place. Jordan joined in the Arab fighting against Israel in the Six-Day War (1967), during which time Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, but abstained during both the Sinai War (1956) and the War of Attrition (1969-70). During the Yom Kippur War (1973), King Hussein committed only token forces to the battle against Israel, and these fought alongside Syrian troops in the Golan Heights.
   Secret negotiations between senior Israeli officials and King Abdullah I took place prior to the creation of Israel, and substantial high-level contacts between the two states continued over the years since. The open bridges policy instituted by Moshe Dayan permitted the continued flow of people and goods across the Jordan River between Jordan and Israel after the Six-Day War. Numerous other contacts of various kinds at various levels and on numerous themes also took place. The concept of a "Jordan option," which assumed that Jordan could represent the Palestinians as a means of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, was for many years a core component of the Israel Labor Party's approach to peacemaking.
   On 14 September 1993 (one day after the signing of the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Declaration of Principles), Israel and Jordan initialed a substantive common agenda for peacemaking. On 25 July 1994, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein signed the Washington Declaration, symbolizing the completion of this agenda. On 17 October 1994, Israel and Jordan initialed a peace treaty in Amman; the official signing ceremony, witnessed by President William J. (Bill) Clinton of the United States, took place in the Arava Desert on 26 October 1994. Although based on common interests and long-standing understandings (especially concerning issues of security), the Israeli-Jordanian relationship is not without its occasional stresses and strains. For example, in early March 1997, King Hussein sent a pointed letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing "distress" over the course of Israeli-PLO peace negotiations. A few days later (13 March 1997), seven Israeli schoolgirls were killed when a deranged Jordanian soldier shot at their bus at the Naharayim border stop (a place known by both sides as the "peace island"); King Hussein subsequently made unprecedented condolence calls on the families of the victims of the attack. A temporary crisis in bilateral relations arose in the fall of 1997, when Mossad agents carrying forged Canadian passports tried to assassinate Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political office in Amman. Despite occasional disruptions, the peace treaty with Jordan remains the most secure of Israel's relationships with its Arab neighbors.
   The death of King Hussein in February 1999 and his choice of his son Abdullah as the new king reflected continuation of the positive relationship between the two states. Under King Abdullah II, relations between the two countries continued to develop. Tourism was substantial, and joint ventures in a number of economic sectors became somewhat commonplace. Cooperation on issues such as the environment and water sharing proved to be beneficial to both economies. Coordination in the areas of border security and counterterrorism continued. Jordan became an increasingly important player in the peace efforts by the United States, and later the Quartet, designed to bring about resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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