Will Jerusalem issue prompt Jordanian policy rethink?

Protesters call for Jordan to sever diplomatic and economic ties with the US and Israel over Trump’s Jerusalem move.

Jordanian members of Parliament
Jordanian members of Parliament during a sit-in in front of the US Embassy in Amman [Muhammad Hamed/Reuters]

Thousands of Jordanians have taken to the streets, burning American and Israeli flags in protest against the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Thousands more protested on Friday in Jordan‘s major cities stretching from Ma’an in the south to Irbid in the north demanding Jordan sever diplomatic and economic ties with the US and Israel.

Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs instructed all preachers to speak about Jerusalem during Friday sermons.

The Ministry of Education issued a statement on Thursday instructing schools to dedicate the first morning period to talk about the importance of Jerusalem to all students in the kingdom.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II travelled to Turkey earlier in the week where he discussed the Arab and Muslim response to Trump’s move with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Several Jordanian politicians said Abdullah is in a precarious position because the US has endangered not just the stability in the region but also inside Jordan, which is a major US ally in the region.

King Abdullah tweeted last night, “Jordanians have always been the pulse of the Arab Nation. They have shown a united deep care for Jerusalem, our first cause. This is a source of pride for me and for every Arab.”

Abdullah also called  Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to coordinate the Arab response to Trump’s decision.

For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas travelled to Jordan on Thursday and met Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein to coordinate the Palestinian-Jordanian steps in response to Trump’s decision, according to Jordanian and Palestinian officials.

Shifting alignment

The highly emotional issue of Jerusalem may be changing the regional alliances for Jordan, by driving it from being closer to the Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis to pushing it closer the Turkish-Qatari one.

Member of Parliament Khalil Atiyeh said that Jordan’s regional policy is witnessing a rare transformation over the issue of Jerusalem.

Atiyeh said Abdullah’s discussions and coordination’s with Turkey and Qatar, instead of Jordan’s traditional allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt, is a “positive transformation”. Atiyeh and others say that Jordan has been abandoned by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Jordanian analysts say there has been a lack of a united Arab response to Trump by pointing to Arab and Israeli press reports stating that Saudi Arabia and Egypt have had secret knowledge of Trump’s decision and supported it.

This explains, the analysts argue, the Saudi-Egyptian cold shoulder to Jordan, and the lukewarm denunciations they issued regarding Trump’s decision.

Jordanian journalist Tariq al-Fayed said this is the first time in recent years the state and public are on the same page over one issue.

“Not only the diverse political groups in Jordan are united in rejecting Trump’s decision, but also the state and the royal court”

“Jordanians are feeling a heightened sense of injustice and betrayal by the US, Israel and their Arab allies.” He added

Call for boycott

Atiyeh who led protesters in Amman on Thursday and Friday alongside Atef al-Tarawneh, speaker of the Jordan parliament, demanded the US rescind its Jerusalem decision and called for an economic boycott of US products.

“Jordan and all of the Arab and Islamic countries must boycott American-made products,” he said.

Atiyeh also demanded the closure of the US embassy in Amman, pointing out that it was the first time Jordanian MPs had demonstrated in front of the diplomatic mission in Amman.

Mamdouh al-Abadai, Jordan’s deputy prime minister, urged all Jordanians to take to the streets to express anger and rejection over the US move.

Scores of Jordanian political parties and groups met on Friday and issued a statement demanding all Arab and Islamic governments revoke their diplomatic and economic ties and treaties with the “Zionist entity”, or Israel.

Serious challenge

The four-point statement said President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital represents a serious challenge to all Arabs and Muslims.

It also stressed that all of historic Palestine, which includes the state of Israel, belongs to Palestinians. “Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to [Jordan] river is an Arab and Islamic.”

Hussam Abdallat, a political activist and opposition leader who is one of the signatories of the statement, told Al Jazeera that Arabs and Muslims around the world must take a firm stance against the US and Israel over this decision.

“Trump humiliated over a billion Muslim with his decision which shows that he really could care less about us or about how we feel about Jerusalem,” he said.

“We in return must show Trump that we matter and Jerusalem matters for us more than he or his advisers think.”

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter @Ali_reports

Source: Al Jazeera