Jordan parliament votes to expel Israeli ambassador after uproar over Smotrich expansionist map
The Jordanian parliament has voted to expel Israel's ambassador to Amman after extremist Finance Minister Belazel Smotrich spoke at an event in Paris this week alongside a map showing 'Greater Israel', which included both Jordan and the occupied West Bank.
The non-binding vote, which passed nearly unanimously, urges the Jordanian government to take "effective measures" against Smotrich’s statements and behaviour - including the expulsion of ambassador Amir Weissbrod from Amman.
During Smotrich's appearance at an event in Paris, he denied the existence of a Palestinian identity.
"There are no Palestinians, because there isn't a Palestinian people," Smotrich said in front of an audience of French supporters of Israel.
Jordanian MPs said the Israeli minister's actions reflect "Israeli arrogance and disrespect of international treaties and conventions".
During the vote, a map of Jordanian territory stretching to the Mediterranean was displayed in the assembly, satirising Smotrich's move.
A map for a map. Jordan's parliament voted to recommend that the government kick out the Israeli ambassador and posted on the lantern a map showing Palestine from the river to the seat united with Jordan pic.twitter.com/qeyH5qcUul— Daoud Kuttab داود كُتّاب (@daoudkuttab) March 22, 2023
Jordan had previously demanded the Israeli government take a "clear stance" and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Amman to voice its rejection of what it described as a "racist speech".
Jordan became the second Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994, but relations have recently been tested, with several disputes between Israel and the Hashemite kingdom.
Smotrich said today that there is no Palestinian people. On his podium is a map that shows a map of Israel that includes Jordan, part of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria in addition to all of historic Palestine. A map that shows his vision of genocide & extraterritoriality. pic.twitter.com/rIQiTRPEOZ— Nour Odeh 🇵🇸 #NojusticeNopeace (@nour_odeh) March 20, 2023
Evoking Biblical "prophecies" that are "beginning to come true", the far-right Israeli minister said during the speech: "After 2,000 years... God is gathering his people. The people of Israel are returning home."
Jordanian government sources told Reuters on Monday that the kingdom had received assurance from Israel that the behaviour of Smotrich did not represent their position.
But the proposed expulsion of Israel’s ambassador would signal a further downturn in relations with Israel. Jordanian officials have maintained open channels with their Israeli counterparts for years.
Smotrich is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government that took office in December and has placed increasing strain on Israel's relations with its Arab neighbours.
The extremist finance minister already faced international rebuke in early March after calling for Hawara in the occupied West Bank to be "wiped out" after settlers launched a horrific attack on the Palestinian town.