Gaza escalation is security concern for Jordan, say analysts

Pro-Palestinian rallies have been organized in several places in Jordan, with large numbers of people spontaneously taking to the streets

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Israel’s escalation in the Gaza Strip is a security concern for Jordan, in addition to the kingdom’s existing worries over neighboring Syria and Iraq, analysts say.

“From a wider perspective, there’s regional chaos starting from Syria, Sinai and then Iraq,” political commentator Amer Sabaileh told Al Arabiya News.

“The escalation in Gaza and the West Bank means that Jordan is getting closer to the security chaos it has always managed to keep a distance from.”

He added that the kingdom “would be involved in the consequences of any security outbreak, and with Jordanians’ emotional attachment to the West Bank, Jordan must keep a careful eye on the course of incidents and their aftermath.”

Oraib Rentawi, of Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, said any Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank has an “immediate and direct” security impact on the kingdom.

“Israeli assaults against the Palestinians always ignite public anger in Jordan,” Rentawi added.

This “usually leads to more tension between the government and public movements and political parties that always take to the street to protest against the Israeli escalation.”

Dozens of demonstrators, mostly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, gathered near the Israeli embassy in Amman Wednesday night.

Some tried to storm the embassy but were barred by security forces, who arrested 11 and released them later.

There was also tension Wednesday in the lower house of parliament, when more than 30 MPs said they would go to Gaza to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

The Jordan Teachers Association, the country’s largest professional syndicate, on Thursday urged the government to cut diplomatic ties with Israel and expel its ambassador.

The government’s response to the Gaza crisis was expressed by Minister of Media Affairs Mohammad Momani, who condemned Israel’s assault and called for an immediate halt.

Momani said there could only be a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rentawi said the Israeli escalation had long-term consequences for Jordan.

“The Israeli military operations in Gaza have either completely killed or at least hindered the long-awaited peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis. In both cases, it’s bad news for Jordan.”

However, the situation does not constitute “a serious strategic military threat” to the kingdom, Rentawi told Al Arabiya News.

“Jordan’s major fear is radical groups penetrating the kingdom, committing small-scale terrorist acts here and there.”

Rentawi added: “When it comes to the Israeli escalation in Gaza, Jordan is faced more with a political challenge manifested in its involvement in, and inseparability from, a Western-sponsored peace process that’s getting more complicated day by day.”

Washington-based writer and political analyst Ali Younes said the Gaza offensive “serves Israel on several fronts: clipping Hamas’s growing power, sabotaging Palestinian reconciliation efforts, and deflecting criticism from its policies” in the West Bank.

Jordan supports the Palestinian national unity deal, which Israel opposes.

The kingdom hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora - some 2 million.

It is estimated that at least half of the country’s population is of Palestinian origin.

Pro-Palestinian rallies have been organized in several places in Jordan, with large numbers of people spontaneously taking to the streets, calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman and the expulsion of the ambassador.

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