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July 18, 2019 No.
8182

Jordanian MP's Call To Bomb Israel-Jordan Gas Pipeline Sparks Angry Responses In Kingdom: 'This Is The Language Of Militias, Not Of Political Action'

The deal for piping natural gas from Israel to Jordan, signed in September 2016, evoked enraged responses in Jordan even before it was signed and continues to do so today. Opposition to the deal has been voiced by tribal and political forces in Jordan, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as by MPs, on the grounds that it constitutes normalization and cooperation with Israel, which they regard as an enemy.[1]

As part of the campaign against the agreement, Tareq Khouri, an independent Jordanian MP known as a supporter of the resistance axis, called to bomb the gas pipeline from Israel to Jordan. Khouri, who made the call at an event held by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary faction, said: "[Let us] sign a charter of honor [requiring] every lover of freedom in Jordan to give up his life and the lives of his children in order to bomb any gas pipeline [from Israel] that passes through Jordanian territory. We shall all be potential martyrs. We will sign a charter of honor and not allow this gas pipeline to penetrate even one inch into Jordanian territory."[2]

Khouri's statements sparked furious responses in the kingdom, from fellow MPs as well as journalists and educators. Most of them clarified that, although they too opposed the gas agreement with Israel, the struggle against it must be waged by legal political means, not through violence and sabotage. They accused Khouri of fomenting chaos and ISIS-like action, and some of them urged him to apologize and even called to take legal measures against him.[3] On July 14 it was reported that several Jordanian citizens had filed a complaint against Khouri for inciting terror in Jordan.[4]

Following the uproar caused by his statements, Khouri partly retracted them, clarifying to a local television channel that he had not called to kill anyone that that his statements were just a metaphor intended to convey an idea.[5]


Tareq Khouri at the press conference in which he made his statements (source: royalnews.tv, July 3, 20219)

This report reviews some of the responses to Khouri's statements.

MP Insaf Al-Khawaldeh: Khouri Is Fomenting Chaos In Jordan; Why Don't His Own Sons Blow Up The Pipeline?  

Jordanian MP Insaf Al-Khawaldeh condemned Khouri's statements, saying to a local news website: "We, all [Jordanian] MPs, without exception, firmly opposed the gas agreement with the oppressive Zionist entity [Israel], by legal and constitutional means... [but] MP Tareq Khouri should not have incited to spread destructive chaos in Jordan and undermine its sovereignty by calling on Jordanians to bomb the gas pipeline on Jordanian soil. Jordanians have never been in conflict with their [own] homeland or directed their weapons against it... I wonder why MP Khouri does not blow up the gas [pipeline] himself, on Israeli territory, considering that he constantly visits [Israel] with a visa, and has never been stopped or prevented from entering the territories [Israel] has usurped. Why doesn't he call on his sons, who live in the U.S., to carry out the bombings [instead of] inciting [others] to carry them out and even head [the operation]?"[6]

Jordanian journalist Lamis Andoni made a similar point on Facebook. She asked Khouri: "Are you willing to go to prison instead of the young people who may heed your call? If one wants something [done], one does not urge others [to do it] and pay the price..."[7]

Jordanian Educator: What Have You Left For ISIS To Do?

Ahmad Khalaf Al-Ja'afreh, a school principal in Amman, wrote on Facebook on July 3: "We can agree or disagree with Tareq [Khouri] about this [gas] agreement, but I am always opposed to the kind of sabotage that the MP is calling for... I say to this honorable MP: Jordan will not allow [acts of] sabotage. If the gas agreement is an act of injustice against the Jordanian people, I think [the Jordanians] have other ways to respond, except for sabotage. In other words, what have you left for ISIS [to do], Sir?"[8]

Jordanian Journalist: Whoever Heeds Khouri's Call Will Be Committing A Crime

Jordanian journalist Nidal Mansour, head of the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists, wrote on Facebook: "Despite the popular appeal of MP Tareq Khouri's call to sign a charter of honor [requiring Jordanians] to bomb the gas pipelines to Israel, this call is illegal and whoever heeds it will be committing a crime. Although I completely support and agree with [the call to] cancel the agreement [with Israel] on the grounds that it lacks constitutional validity, [I believe that] MPs have constitutional means by which to cancel it, including submitting a no-confidence vote against the government unless it adopts [the parliament's] recommendation [to revoke the agreement]. While I respect MP Khouri, this position amounts to shirking the parliament's duty... and constitutes a precedent in terms of the attitude towards the state – for the principle is that nobody is above the constitution and the rule of law."[9] 


Nidal Mansour's post

Research Institute Director: The Agreement Can Be Fought By Nonviolent Means; Khouri's Statement Was Irresponsible

'Oraib Al-Rantawi, director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman, condemned Khouri's call in his July 5 column in the daily Al-Dustour. He wrote: "Opposing the gas agreement between Israel and Jordan is natural, and is in line with the supreme and essential national interests of the [Jordanian] state and people. Most of the Jordanian people endorse this position, based on their opposition to normalization with Israel and their concerns about the implications of the radical right-wing Zionist enterprise for the security, stability and national identity of Jordan, and not just out of solidarity with the people closest to Jordan and the Jordanians [namely the Palestinians]... I was among the first to condemn and to question the largest of all Jordanian paradoxes: Jordan expects the worst from Israel, because the greatest threat to its security and interests comes from the west [i.e., from Israel], yet despite this, its official policy continues to increase its dependence on Israel in strategic areas like water and energy. This is a dangerous policy, which is detrimental to Jordan's future and cannot be understood or justified in any way, even if it was the result of intense American pressures...

"The [National Coalition for] Reform faction [the parliamentary faction which includes the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood], and the energetic MP and legal expert Saleh Al-'Armouti [who belongs to this faction], have carefully studied the clauses of the agreement and proposed ways to release [Jordan] from it. That is a commendable effort, for that is how parliamentary and party action should be conducted... For a veteran Jordanian MP to recommend bombing a gas pipeline is an irresponsible [act] that has nothing to do with political or parliamentary action. I hope and believe it was a slip of the tongue and that [Khouri] will retract it and apologize, for political positions should never be expressed on a public platform at a moment of emotional turmoil and excitement. This is especially true with regards to positions and policies that can be very detrimental to the security and stability of Jordan. If anyone who opposes the gas agreement is entitled to suggest blowing up the pipeline, it follows that anyone who opposes the peace agreement [with Israel] and the presence of an Israeli embassy and ambassador in Amman is entitled to make similar suggestions. This is where the concept of the state collapses and security is harmed, and we start [living by] the law of the jungle. [In such a situation,] all the noble goals of the campaigns against normalization and trade with [Israel], the entity of occupation and settlements, remain unrealized, and the state is exposed to [the danger of] anarchy and loss of control. The radical Israeli right probably anticipates this and deeply yearns for it...

"The last time we heard about – or, to be more accurate, suffered from – the idea of pipeline bombings was in Sinai after the collapse of the MB regime [in Egypt], when the gas pipeline from Egypt [to Jordan] was repeatedly blown up by the terror organizations. This caused us a tremendous energy crisis and put us six billion dollars in debt... Bombings are synonymous with chaos and the collapse of the state. This is the language of militias, not of recognized and accepted parliamentary, partisan and political action.

"Those who express positions – no matter how noble the sentiments and goals that underpin these positions –must not, even for a moment, consider breaching the boundaries and principles of political action and jeopardizing [Jordan's security] with calls that bring nothing but devastating results. If we have learned one essential lesson from the Arab Spring, it is that only the state can guarantee unity, sovereignty, independence, security and stability, and only in this framework can the players [within the state] conduct their struggles. Noble objectives do not justify illegitimate means. There are peoples and movements that took to the streets in the name of noble objectives, but the employment of such [illegitimate] means led them to perdition. Noble goals require noble means; the end does not justify the means. There are no restrictions on goals and ideas [expressed] in the political and public sphere – but there are restrictions on the ways and means [used to realize them], chiefly that they must be nonviolent."[10]

 

[1] It should be noted that the deal – according to which Israel will supply natural gas to Jordan for 15 years starting in late 2019 – is not between the two countries but between Jordan's National Electric Power Company and the companies developing the Leviathan reservoir off the Israeli coast. Following a stormy debate on the deal in Jordan's lower house of parliament on March 26, 2019, Parliament Speaker 'Atef Al-Tarawneh announced that the parliament and the Jordanian people oppose the deal and that the parliament would demand that the government revoke it, regardless of the cost (Al-Ghad, Jordan, March 27, 2019). On April 30, 2019, the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily reported, citing senior Jordanian political sources, that King Abdallah had ordered to investigate whether the gas agreement with Israel served the interests of the kingdom (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, April 30, 2019).

[2] Royalnews.tv, July 3, 2019.

[3] Facebook.com/marwanlaw, July 4, 2019.

[4] The authors of the complaint explained that they had submitted it in the name of equality, given that several Jordanian citizens who had photographed the pipeline, apparently with the intent of sabotaging it, had been arrested (Al-Rai, Jordan, July 14, 2019).

[5] Royalnews.tv, July 6, 2019.

[6] Rumonline.net, July 5, 2019.

[7] Facebook.com/lamis.andoni, July 3, 2019.

[8] Facebook.com/ahmadaljaafreh, July 3, 2019.

[9] Facebook.com/nidal.mansour.14, July 3, 2019.

[10] Al-Dustour (Jordan), July 5, 2019.