Jordan returns its ambassador to Israel

Jordan returns its ambassador to Israel
Amman is patching up diplomatic ties with Israel after the al-Aqsa Mosque crisis led to a three-month freeze in relations.
2 min read
02 February, 2015
Walid Obeidat (right) became Jordan's ambassador to Israel in 2012 [AFP]

Walid Obeidat, Jordan's ambassador to Israel, is set to return to Tel Aviv this evening, after a three-month absence.

"The decision to send the ambassador back comes after the reasons behind recalling him were resolved," government spokesperson Mohammad al-Momeni told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Jordan had recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv on 5 November 2014 "for consultations" after radical right-wing Jewish activists had sparked violence in East Jerusalem with provocative visits to al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli troops frequently restrict access to Islam's third-holiest site, preventing Palestinians from praying there.

"We have seen a positive increase in the number of worshippers attending the Friday prayers in al-Aqsa Mosque, reaching up to 66,000 people on some Fridays," Momeni added.

The official Jordanian statement appears to fly in the face of reports from United Nations agencies and human rights organisations, which accuse Israel of escalating attacks against East Jerusalem residents.

The move has surprised many analysts, as it is likely to feed into a sense of popular resentment with palace officials. Amman's failure to secure the release of Moaz Kasasbeh, the pilot captured by Islamic State group fighters last month, has left many Jordanians angry with the country's leadership.

The restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel does come ahead of King Abdullah's latest official visit to Washington, however. The White House has reportedly been pressuring Jordan not to jeopardise its normalisation process with Israel.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.