Saturday, June 10th | 22 Sivan 5783

March 22, 2023 4:26 pm

Jordan Holds Vote to Expel Israeli Ambassador Flaunting Image of ‘Greater Jordan’


avatar by Andrew Bernard

Jordan’s parliament votes to expel Israel’s ambassador before an image of ‘Greater Jordan’. 22 March 2023 (Photo: Petra News Agency)

The Jordanian Parliament on Wednesday voted to expel Israel’s ambassador to Jordan while displaying an image showing all of Israel under Jordanian control after Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich gave a controversial speech in France at a podium depicting Jordan as part of Israel.

Jordanian media also posted images of MP Ismail Al-Mashaqbeh placing an Israeli flag on the ground and walking on it a sign of disrespect.

Jordan’s Petra news agency reported that the Jordanian MPs said that the speech displayed “an Israeli arrogance and disrespect of international treaties and conventions” and a “deep hatred towards the Palestinian people and a clear insistence on ignoring the Palestinians’ presence.”

Both Israel and Jordan have a history of claiming each others’ territory. King Abdullah I, great-grandfather of the current king, had aspirations of annexing the British Mandate of Palestine, while the maximalist Israeli position based on the Kingdom of Israel at its greatest extent includes parts of what is now Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.

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Smotrich, the head of the far-right Religious Zionist Party, delivered remarks on Sunday in France to an organization called Israel is Forever at a podium with an image depicting Greater Israel, showing Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan under Israeli control. 

In his speech, Smotrich declared that the Palestinian people don’t exist.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian,” Smotrich said. “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. Do you know who is Palestinian? I am Palestinian. My late grandfather, who was a 13th generation Jerusalemite, is the true Palestinian. The Palestinian people is an invention that is less than 100 years old.”

“Is there Palestinian history or culture? No there isn’t,” he added.

Smotrich’s statement was condemned by the French foreign ministry, which called the remarks “shameful and irresponsible.” No French officials met with Smotrich during his trip.

The Israeli foreign ministry also distanced itself from the Greater Israel imagery, saying on Tuesday that, “there has been no change in the position of the State of Israel, which recognizes the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” and that it is committed to the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries.

The United States condemned Smotrich’s comments as “dangerous,” but also took subtler jabs at his argument.

“[Office of Palestinian Affairs] Chief George Noll visited the Darwish Museum and its lovely gardens in Ramallah,” the US Palestinian affairs chief tweeted Monday. “Mahmoud Darwish showed us the power of words. As he wrote, poetry and beauty are always making peace. His poetry is a Palestinian national treasure.”

Darwish (1941-2008) is commonly regarded as the Palestinians’ national poet.

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