Defense Minister Benny Gantz may pay a visit to neighboring Jordan, as tensions rise between Jerusalem and Amman over Israel’s plan to annex parts of Yehudah and Shomron, the London-based Arabic newspaper Rai al-Youm reported Tuesday. The article provided no sources, and there was no immediate confirmation from Gantz’s office.
If the visit goes ahead, it would be Gantz’s first voyage out of the country in his role as defense minister.
The coalition deal signed between the Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White Party allows Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to begin annexation on July 1. The lands in question are those slated for Israeli sovereignty under President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
Senior Jordanian officials have threatened to reconsider their treaties and agreements with Israel in the event of annexation. Diplomatic relations were established between Amman and Jerusalem in 1994, but have deteriorated significantly in the past few years. Some examples are Amman’s recalling of its ambassador to protest the arrests of two Jordanian nationals, who were later released by Israel; and Jordan’s recent termination of special arrangements that allowed Israeli farmers to easily access plots of land inside Jordan.
King Abdullah warned in a media interview that if Israel goes through with annexation, “it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”
According to a recent Channel 13 report, Jordan does not want to take concrete steps unless or until annexation is officially declared, but among the possible steps are canceling its peace treaty with Israel.
Annexation will lead to “confrontation, anarchy and hopelessness,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said last week, adding: “As part of the war on terror, we must act quickly to prevent Israel” from annexing the land, and “negotiations must be resumed in order to achieve piece on the basis of a two-state solution.”
“We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel,” Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz told Jordanian state news agency Petra in late May.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is reportedly planning to pay an urgent visit to Israel on Wednesday to warn Netanyahu that annexation will harm Israel’s ties with the European Union.
However, a diplomatic official in Jerusalem said on Monday that Germany will not respond harshly if Israel goes ahead with the plan, noting that Berlin has made clear that it does not plan to enact sanctions against Israel or recognize a Palestinian state.