Jordan has announced it is “immediately” recalling its ambassador to Israel in response to the war in Gaza, accusing Israel of creating an “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe”.
“Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi decided to immediately recall Jordan’s ambassador to Israel,” Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement, to reflect Amman’s condemnation of the “Israeli war that is killing innocent people in Gaza”.
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The ministry said its envoy would only return if Israel ceased its war on the besieged territory. It also told Israel to recall its ambassador to the kingdom amid the crisis.
The move “is pretty significant diplomatically”, said Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher from East Jerusalem, but “it’s not going to change what’s happening with the Israelis on the ground in Gaza.”
Testing Israel-Jordan relations
Jordan, which neighbours Israel to the east, has held a fragile peace agreement with Tel Aviv since 1994, which returned some 380 kilometres (236 miles) of Jordan’s occupied land from Israeli control and resolved longstanding water disputes.
The last time Jordan recalled its envoy to Israel was in 2019 to protest against the months-long detention of two of its citizens without charges.
However, Israel’s 26-day war in Gaza, which Palestinian officials say has killed more than 8,700 people – including more than 3,000 children, has triggered a severe regional backlash, especially in Jordan, where some three million Palestinians live.
On Friday, as Israel continued its air assault on Gaza and sent ground troops into the enclave, Jordan’s Safadi warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions” and likely regional spillover.
“Israel’s war on Gaza, with brutality of ground attack playing live on TV screens, is pushing region into the abyss,” Safadi wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Int’l community must unequivocally stand against it.”
Israel’s war on Gaza, with brutality of ground attack playing live on TV screens, is pushing region into the abyss. Int’l community must unequivocally stand against it. Supporting #UNGA Arab Res is a must expression of world refusal this catastrophe. Consequences will haunt all
— Ayman Safadi (@AymanHsafadi) October 27, 2023
Jordan’s King Abdullah has also spoken out against Israel’s attacks on and blockade of the crowded Palestinian enclave, saying on October 19 in a joint statement with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that they rejected Israel’s “policy of collective punishment”.
Jordan’s Queen Rania echoed these sentiments in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on October 24. “This is the first time in modern history that there is such human suffering and the world is not even calling for a ceasefire,” she said.
Amman has seen numerous mass rallies urging for an end to its 29-year peace treaty with Israel and for Jordan to shutter the Israeli embassy following the Gaza war.
Frustration towards Israel had been building among Jordanians earlier this year, due to inflammatory comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
In a speech in Paris in March, Smotrich said, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
Jordan’s parliament responded at the time by recommending the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Amman from the country, but that vote was not binding and the government never carried out the expulsion.