On Sunday, September 2, 2012, the national leadership of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs met with King Abdullah of Jordan as well as his Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh. The delegation was led by Centre Chair David Koschitzky, and included Steven Cummings, Morris Perlis and Shimon Fogel, as well as Marc Gold, Chairman of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA.
The initiative stemmed from a direct invitation from the Jordanian monarch, and was supported by both Canadian and Israeli political leadership.
King Abdullah engaged in a very open discussion about the challenges in the region – and in particular, those faced by Jordan. He noted that Jordan was carrying the economic brunt of the conflict in Syria. In particular, Jordan has been overwhelmed with almost 200,000 refugees, with an additional 100,000 expected. The cost – housing, food, school and medical care – is enormous and burdens an economy already strapped for cash, energy and water. We were asked to convey the message that Jordan requires immediate and increased foreign aid and investment in order to meet this challenge.
Of particular note was the King’s acknowledgment that Israel – which he views as Jordan’s key regional ally – has been highly responsive to his requests in the context of efforts to bring about a resumption of direct talks between Israel and the PA. King Abdullah further expressed the belief that achieving peace on the Israel-Palestinian front will make immeasurably easier the task of confronting other – even existential – challenges facing the region, including the ability to garner support from other Arab nations in relation to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Finally, the meetings addressed the role that Canada might play in the region, both with regard to the peace process as well as support for ensuring stability within Jordan.
Israeli and Canadian officials have expressed satisfaction with the outcome of our Jordanian encounter and – together with the Jordanians – are supportive of the Centre’s ongoing involvement — and those of us who participated are equally pleased with what we believe was accomplished.