Why Is Jordon Suddenly Lukewarm Over the Joint Industrial Project With Israel?

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Jordan JordanThings have hit a roadblock between Jordon and Israel over a promising cross-border industrial project; all because Israel refuses to stop excluding Palestinians from regional development schemes. In line with the US supporting the normalization of relations of Israel with other Arab nations, Jordon continues to maintain a balanced perspective towards rights of Palestinians.

Jordon has taken a stand after a few weeks of US President Joe Biden’s meeting with the Palestinian PM and other Arab leaders. When Mr. Biden met Mr. Abbas in Bethlehem on July 15, he then pledged $100 million in extra aid to the Palestinians but did not offer any new peace plan. A day later he told leaders of the GCC, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq in Jeddah that Washington “would not walk away from the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, the officials on the Jordanian side have suddenly distant themselves from the progressing project. Apparently, there is an understanding that Israel is continuing to exclude any employment opportunities or growth prospects for Palestinians, something the Jordanian kingdom is not okay with.

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The Jordan Gateway is designed to house large factories, granaries, technology companies, a power station and a bridge connecting the two sides which will allow unhindered movement for anyone crossing it, the project’s website says.

Since signing a peace treaty with Israel, Jordon has functioned over a barter system. They still don’t share very strong trade relations. Jordan depends on Israel for a significant proportion of its water supply and the two sides have close security ties. But bilateral relations have been mostly lukewarm in public.

After the visit of King Abdullah with the Palestinian counterpart, the fact that Jordon has become committed to supporting Palestinians could be one reason why back home officials are not looking excited as on the Israel side, the project is gaining speed.

The Israeli government has already announced that it will speed up the building of the four square-kilometre zone across the Jordan river, between the Israeli Kibbutz of Kfar Ruppin and the Jordanian town of Al Mashare.

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