Defense Minister Benny Gantz secretly traveled to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II, ALL ISRAEL NEWS has confirmed.
The two apparently discussed Iran and other security issues plaguing the region.
But Gantz blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chilly relationship with Amman for “hampering” progress between the two countries.
“I think Jordan is a great asset to Israel and I think that our relationship with Jordan could be 1,000 times better,” Gantz reportedly said during a Zoom meeting with other Blue and White party members. “Unfortunately, Netanyahu is an unwanted figure in Jordan, and his presence harms the advancement of relations.”
Gantz said he believes it is possible to “have great achievements” between the two countries with “one or two civilian projects each year with Jordan, and within 10 years up to 20 or 30 projects.”
But he said Netanyahu’s “presence interferes with the advancement” of the two countries’ progress.
While Jordan and Israel have had a formal peace agreement since 1994, relations have mostly remained tense. Jordan has a large Palestinian population and King Abdullah recently reiterated his support for a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“So you can only imagine the frustration of the people still living in the midst of this protracted conflict, unable to move forward,” Abdullah said at a recent conference held by the Brookings Institution. “Occupation and peace simply cannot coexist. The Palestinian people have a right to an independent, viable and sovereign state on the June 4, 1967 lines – to live alongside Israel in peace and security.”
The leak of this meeting comes as the defense minister is in the fight of his political life. With elections coming up on March 23, Gantz’s party isn’t polling well and is in danger of not amassing enough votes to reach the Knesset. Last week, 130 former senior Israeli military officers published a letter calling for Gantz to drop out of the race.
According to sources, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has also met twice with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, in recent months, Ynet reported.
Meanwhile, the defense minister has said that Israel should provide the anti-COVID vaccines to Palestinians.
“It is in our interest, both politically and from the humanitarian aspect, that Palestinians receive the coronavirus vaccines, as more than 100,000 of them are entering Israel for work on a daily basis,” he said. “This is why we must do all we can to assist them in obtaining the shots and to examine how we can help them in any other way.”
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS