At last, Jordan’s MPs are politicians

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

Although it was received with public cheers, Jordanian lawmakers' recent demand from the government to freeze diplomatic relations with Israel had to do more with the newly-elected MPs being at odds with the premier they had selected.

Strangely enough, when an overwhelming majority of deputies demanded last Wednesday the government of Jordan's strongman Abdullah Ensour expel Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Daneil Nevo and recall the kingdom's newly-appointed Ambassador to Israel, Walid Obeidat, they knew that their request is not abiding to the government.

Under Jordan's constitution, the government is the only entity authorized to handle the state's affairs and its external relations.

Definitely not as opportunists, Jordan's lawmakers saw in the Israeli violations a chance to tell their government that "we are independent and no longer taken for granted."

Raed Omari

It is true that the Lower House's vote came in direct response to the recent "Israeli occupation measures at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem" – and this is not meant to underestimate or question their patriotism – but it would have been more effective and serious if linked to a motion of confidence in the government "should it fails or refuses to do so."

Also under Jordan's constitution, a session to consider a vote of no confidence in the Council of Ministers or in any individual minister shall be held either at the request of the prime minister or at a request signed by not less than 10 deputies.”

Actually, all MPs present at last week's session raised their hands in support of the vote to expel the Israeli ambassador. Of course, no one abstained or objected the move at last on moral basis. A previous Lower House has once witnessed the burning up of the Israeli flag.

Some of the deputies who supported the move – actually initiated it – were at the parliament when Jordan signed the 1994 Wadi Araba peace treaty with Israel.

For many deputies, Israel's recent "provocative" measures in Jerusalem, mainly the detention of top Islamic cleric mufti, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, constituted an offence to the Hashemite kingdom's custodianship of the Holy City and thus a "counteraction" was urgently needed, "indeed the least to be done".

King Abdullah and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed in last March an agreement reaffirming the Hashemite Monarch's status as the custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Successful strike

Right after the vote was conducted, Jordan's foreign ministry officially summoned Nevo to express Jordan’s rejection of repeated Israeli aggression on Jerusalem's Islamic sites. The Israeli authorities released Sheikh Mohammad Hussein and the Israeli President Shimon Peres was reported as expressing keenness on the Jewish state's relations with Jordan.

But regardless of the outcomes of the move – nevertheless important – the vote was so much related to the troubling relationship between Ensour and the popularity-gaining Chamber.

The government's relationship with the post-Arab Spring Chamber has been notably and strangely marked with uneasiness, awkwardness and defiance and, to the surprise of many observers, lawmakers, who recommended Ensour, passed a vote of confidence in his Cabinet with a very low percentage.

This kind of uncomfortable relationship between both authorities is mainly the result of deputies' attempt to change their negative public image, others' struggle to keep their influence and presence and the new ones' endeavor to show up a strong presence.

Definitely not as opportunists, Jordan's lawmakers saw in the Israeli violations a chance to tell their government that "we are independent and no longer taken for granted."

Jordanian consecutive parliaments have been long perceived by the public as governed and obsessed by the executive authority to thee point in which MPs have been described in the street as "public employees".

All in all, the controversial vote marked the emergence of a fierce confrontation and a tit-for-tat relationship between Ensour – a former outspoken MP – and some influential deputies unhappy to see their long-preserved power gradually decaying.

Ensour, who has so far succeed in handling Jordan's difficult situation, is required to prepare himself very well for tough deputies who are succeeding in changing the negative public image of Jordan’s consecutive Lower Houses.

Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.