What’s happened: President Isaac Herzog revealed on Saturday night that last week he visited the King Abdullah II of Jordan at the King’s palace.
- The meeting was held at the King’s invitation, the President’s office described it as a warm meeting, where “they discussed deep strategic issues, at both the bilateral and regional levels.”
- After the meeting, President Herzog said: “Jordan is a very important country. I have immense respect for King Abdullah, a great leader and a highly significant regional actor… In our meeting, among the things we discussed were the core issues in the dialogue between our states, including an agreement to import agricultural produce during the shemitah (agricultural sabbatical) year, energy issues, sustainability, and solutions to the climate crisis that we can advance together.
- Herzog added: “there is a sense in the region of a desire to make progress, a desire to speak. We are currently marking one year since the signing of the Abraham Accords. These accords created an important regional infrastructure. They are highly important agreements, which are transforming our region and the dialogue within it.”
- Yesterday, Herzog spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who called to congratulate him personally on entering office and to extend his wishes to the Israeli people for the Jewish New Year and the Jewish holidays. According to his office, “The two leaders also discussed bilateral issues and shared Egyptian-Israeli interests. President Herzog thanked the Egyptian President for the important role that he plays in the pursuit of regional stability and peace.”
Context: The new Israeli government has made a concerted effort to rebuild close relations with Jordan.
- Shortly after assuming the role of prime minister, Naftali Bennett also met with King Abdullah in Amman.
- Last month Foreign Minister Lapid met his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi. Israel agreed to sell Jordan an additional 50 million cubic meters of water this year as well as increase Jordan’s export potential to the Palestinian Authority.
- Relations with Egypt under Sisi were already on a positive trajectory under the Netanyahu government. Egypt has continued to play a vital role mediating between Israel and Hamas to advance a long term truce agreement.
- Recently Israel agreed to several measures to ease conditions for Gaza residents including: an increase of work permits inside Israel, expanding the fishing zone, increasing their water supply and agreeing to a mechanism to allow Qatari aid money into the Gaza Strip. The new mechanism empowers the Palestinian Authority and is supported by Egypt and Jordan, but Hamas in angry over their loss of control over the funds.
- In further indication of coordination, last week Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. They reiterated their shared support for a two-state solution and the importance of calming tensions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- Hamas officials have described those decisions as insufficient and are threatening a resumption of violence.
Looking ahead: Israel remains concerned over the potential eruption of Hamas violence over the Jewish Holiday period that begins tonight.
- Prime Minister Bennett is expected to soon visit Cairo and meet with President Sisi.
- There is continued speculation that Egypt is also leading efforts to reach an Israeli – Hamas prisoner exchange, that would in turn lead to a longer truce agreement.