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Jordan and Middle East Peace Process

The end of the 1991 Gulf War resulted in the Madrid peace process in which Arab states and Israel met to discuss peace. The results of that meeting were the Oslo agreements, Jordan-Israel peace treaty, Palestinian control of Gaza and Jericho and other achievements. However most of these agreements were in jeopardy following the Palestinian Intifada of 2000 (Barari 19). Jordan has remained a peace partner with Israel. It was a strategic decision by the late King Hussain to remove the obstacles that had kept the region on the verge of conflict.

Jordan developed an environment of peace and cooperation with Israel. The agreement between Israel and Jordan is not a simple signed document but it has been an opening of borders and cultures. Jordan has also strived to ensure normal interaction of its people with the people of Israel. The peace agreement is a comprehensive one which has tremendous opportunities for development (Barari 29). Jordan believes that peaceful coexistence should develop as a lasting solution for peace and conflict prevention.

Initially the peace pact was greeted with skepticism and hostility. However there has been a transition towards peaceful coexistence and cautious cooperation. With the passage of time it is hoped that both countries would move towards proactive cooperation. Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel resulted in a rapid consolidation of cooperation that would form the basis for a more comprehensive regional peace treaty. Jordan has actively participated in promoting regional peace and harmony. It has also signed a number of agreements which have been comprehensive.

The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel has increased trade and commerce. Jordan and Israel have a healthy balance of trade with millions of goods exported and imported on both sides. There has been a total increase of 130%, to $20 million and $12. 5 million respectively. Bilateral trade between both sides is according to some statistics to be worth $17. 5. The Aqaba Port has been visited by Israeli merchants to help in their trade with other countries. Israeli ports have been used to transport Jordanian goods to European, Asian and African countries (Madfai 23).

Israel has also set up 25 factories, employing about 3,500 Jordanian laborers. They have been manufacturing mostly textiles, luggage, electronics, batteries and jewelry. The majority of them are located in the Irbid Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ). Awasi sheep have been delivered to Jordan as part of an October 1998 agreement to create an experimental farm. This has increased the quality of meat and milk provided to Jordan. There have been other agreements to increase cooperation in agriculture. An estimated 125,000 Israeli tourists visit Jordan every year.

Both countries have also agreed to develop tourism and to conduct joint marketing surveys. There are plans to construct an airport contacts in Aqaba-Eilat. Japan is also assisting in the re-construction of the Allenby Bridge. Both countries have also agreed for the development of joint communications projects which would significantly improve the quality of telephone services. Both countries conducted a joint exercise to practice responding to pollution in the Red Sea on November 22, 2004, in the Eilat-Aqaba Bay (Wright 123).

The peace process has been a difficult balancing act for the Jordanian government. Being a pro-Western and pro-American government region in the Middle East it also has to ensure the balance is not disturbed. Half of the population of Jordan is of Palestinian origin. There has been considerable opposition to the peace treaty in Jordan. Jordanian Islamists have considered the treaty to be between Israel and the Jordanian monarchy. They have further said that Jordan has not reaped any economic benefits from the peace process.

The opposition believes that freedoms and the rights of citizens have retreated in an unprecedented way. Political and economic reforms have stopped since the peace treaty was signed according to the Islamist opposition (Ilan Pappe 203). Supporters of the treaty however have pointed out to the economic benefits and how trade and tourism has been bolstered. They further point out that the treaty has enabled Jordan to become a recipient of US aid and it has strengthened Jordan’s security. Peace remains a strategic option for Jordan.

Jordan’s water problems have been solved because of accessibility to much needed water resources. Further Jordan can refer to the international community to solve water problems. Jordan has also emerged as a major negotiator and facilitator for final talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. The treaty also has strategic importance for Jordan. The United States has written off millions of dollars of debt for Jordan. It has also provided $225 million in annual aid. The Paris Club has also agreed to reschedule even more of the Kingdom’s $6. 8 billion debt (Siegman 56).

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