Israeli-Jordanian relations faced a cloud of uncertainty following the statements of GOC Central Command leader of the Israeli army, Yair Naveh, who said that 80% of Jordan’s population are Palestinians who could pose regional threats even to King Abdullah “who is liable to be the last Hashemite king to lead Jordan”.Naveh made his comments in a closed-door meeting conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. One of the senior figures who participated in the meeting said that Naveh expressed his “fears” to a group of foreign journalists and diplomats.
The senior figure said that Naveh believes that instability and threats in the Middle East are liable to spread to Israel’s neighbor countries.
Following the leaked report, senior defense establishment sources in Israel expressed fear that Naveh’s comments might harm the Israeli-Jordanian ties.
In Jordan, several diplomatic officials sought clarifications to the statements of Naveh.
Omar Al Nazeef, the acting Jordanian Ambassador to Israel slammed the statements of Naveh and described them as “irresponsible declarations”.
Al Nazeef told Jordan’s official News Agency, Petra, that Jordan expects Israel to take disciplinary measures against Naveh, warning that the lack of response from Israel is liable to negatively affect the relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni contacted her Jordanian counterpart, Abdullah Al Khatib, and emphasized that Israel considers its relations with Jordan a strategic asset.
Livni added that these statements, and any statement to the contrary, does not at all reflect the government’s position.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, and Israeli Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz “were hesitant to issue a statement aimed at softening the blow of Naveh’s comments”.
They said that Naveh’s comments did not in any way represent the position held by the State of Israel, Haaretz added.
Sources in the Israeli government said that Naveh was not attacking Jordan or its stability but “spoke of the possible dangers posed by the strengthening of a Hamas-Iran axis”.
The sources added that Naveh said that a strong Hamas in the West Bank and its connections with Palestinians living in Jordan “could forge a situation in which King Abdullah might be the last Hashemite ruler”.
According to Haaretz, Naveh intends to send a letter of apology and clarification to his Jordanian counterparts, the central and northern sector commanders in Jordan.
Both Mofaz and Halutz said they would probe the statements of Naveh.
Dore Gold, Director of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, claimed that Naveh was talking about the “security and strategic threats on Israel’s eastern front”.