Jordan rips into Israel PM for ‘toying with region for electoral gains’

Amman /PNN/

Jordan’s top diplomat has made a scathing, indirect attack on Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what he described as “toying with” the region for the sake of his own electoral gains, amid an escalating diplomatic row between Tel Aviv and Amman.

Israeli officials said Thursday that Netanyahu had been forced to call off a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a fourth time, citing a delay in Jordan’s approval of the premier’s flight path over the kingdom.

Tel Aviv said this appeared to be a tit-for-tat move for Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah’s canceled trip to the al-Aqsa compound a day earlier amid a dispute with the Israeli regime over entry permits for his security detail.

Speaking at a presser later on Thursday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi — whose country is the custodian of holy sites in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds — blamed Israel for the cancelation of Prince Hussein’s visit, saying the regime was breaching agreed terms for the trip.

In remarks apparently directed at Netanyahu, Safadi said the dispute had in fact something to do with Israel’s upcoming elections, in which chances for the premier’s win are estimated to have diminished.

“What makes things worse those who are toying with the region and its peoples’ right to live in peace for the sake of electoral and populist concerns… destroying the trust which is the basis for ending the conflict,” Safadi said.

The foreign minister said arrangements had been made with the Israeli side for Prince Hussein’s trip, expressing surprise that the regime had suddenly sought to change the plans.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque is entirely a place of worship for Muslims. Israel has no sovereignty upon it… nor do we accept any Israeli intervention in its affairs,” he said.

Netanyahu is preparing to run in the general elections set for March 23, the regime’s fourth round of polls in two years, amid a political standoff among the main parties in Tel Aviv.

Latest polls suggest that Netanyahu’s Likud Party is expected to gain less votes in the elections, amid a public outcry over the premier’s corruption charges and mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

‘A slap in Netanyahu’s face’

Experts say Netanyahu sought to use the trip to the UAE as a PR stunt to boost his chances in the election.

In an analysis piece on the dispute, Rai al-Youm, an Arab world digital news, and opinion website described the cancelation of the Israeli premier’s trip to the UAE as a “slap in the face” of Netanyahu.

Under Netanyahu, political relations between Jordan and Israeli have soured in recent years over Tel Aviv’s policies toward occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

Citing informed sources, Rai al-Youm said ties between Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II are “very bad.”

The news website referred to reports of a secret meeting in Amman between King Abdullah and Benny Gants, the leader of Israel’s Blue and White and Netanyahu’s main political rival, in February, saying such a meeting is indicative of the monarch’s strained relations with the incumbent Israeli prime minister.

In 2019, King Abdullah said ties with the Israeli regime were “at an all-time low,” after a series of incidents that prompted Amman to recall its ambassador to Israel.

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