Author:Albrecht, Kirk

The Jordanian-Israeli peace has most often been referred to as a "warm" peace, to distinguish it from the Egyptian accord brokered at Camp David in 1979. However, as Kirk Albrecht reports from Amman, the once "warm" peace is cooling fast.

The Jordanian-Israeli accord was meant to herald the development of a real relationship between the neighbouring states. Embassies were quickly established, bi-lateral economic projects were drawn up and Israel hosted a party in Amman to celebrate, while television cameras recorded the event for posterity.

Now, more than three years since the signing of the peace treaty ending the formal state of war between the two nations, a kind of cold war is settling in. Continued intransigence in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, coupled with the aborted assassination attempt against Jordanian Hamas leader Khaled Meshal last year, have caused many, even in the peace camp, to reassess their stance.

King Hussein is now wondering aloud about his partner to the west, in whom he has placed so much political capital. Recent interviews and speeches have shown a bitter Hussein, at odds with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over what he sees as steps aimed at crushing peace.

In Amman he told an American newspaper, "There have been so many broken promises, so many provocative moves, that you begin to wonder whether there is an attempt to destroy Oslo."

The King has said he feels there may be a time when Jordan loses hope of ever finding a true, durable Middle East peace.

Israelis do not deny the growing strain, although they sound a more hopeful tone. In an interview with The Middle East, Israeli ambassador to Jordan Dr. Oded Oran admitted the Meshal affair had slowed relations. "Political dialogue does continue," he says, "but there is an open wound -- we hope time will be a healer."

However, few Jordanians hold out much hope. Taher Al Masri, former Prime Minister and member of Parliament now firmly entrenched in the opposition camp, says it bluntly: "The peace process is dead, whether we like it or not."

While Jordan has been slow to develop ties and many citizens remain hostile to the Jewish state, there has been little expression to those feelings. "There has not been any violence in opposition to the peace treaty with Israel," says Hani Hourani, director of the Al Urdun Al Jadid Research Center in Amman. "There have been no outward signs of the rebellion one might expect with the making of that decision."


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