October 26, 2009 marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty
On October 26, 1994, the respective prime ministers of Israel and Jordan, Yitzhak Rabin and Abdul Salam Majali, signed a Treaty of Peace at the Arava crossing, witnessed by U.S. President Clinton.
The peace treaty between Jordan and Israel has proven its soundness, despite the crises and problems that have beset us over the past 15 years. It has withstood these challenges thanks to the leaders of our two countries, and thanks to fact that the leaders and people of both countries recognize the importance of our mutual security, political and economic interests.
A historical perspective shows that the peace treaty – which was achieved by direct negotiations, with mutual concessions and no preconditions – has contributed to cooperation on trade, water issues, agriculture, tourism, environmental quality and, of course, economic development. The QIZ (Qualifying Industrial Zones) agreements have exempted the joint textile products of Israel and Jordan from customs duties on exports to the United States, thereby increasing local exports. The peace treaty has also contributed to the stability of the region and to strengthening the moderate elements in our area.
There is still a lot of work ahead of us, and the great potential inherent in the peace treaty, particularly the implementation of regional projects, is far from fulfillment. Political, security, legal and bureaucratic obstacles have prevented the progress of such regional projects as the construction of a joint Aqaba-Eilat airport, connecting the electricity grids of the two countries, the Jordan Park project, etc.
Israel and Jordan must today set a new agenda, based on productive cooperation on the issues most vital to our lives, particularly alternative energy sources and water desalination. Ecology, water, alternative energy and advanced agriculture can serve as a broad platform for possible joint ventures by Israel and Jordan, with the support of foreign investors.
Israel and Jordan have proven the importance of cooperation in education, agriculture, medicine and sports, in contending with epidemics, implementing biological pest control, etc. During the last two weeks, the Three Border Marathon and the sailing event in which the Jordanian club participated, were held in Eilat as part of our sports connections. Two days from now, on October 28, a course for 20 Jordanian paramedics on Emergency Preparedness and Response will open at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba. In November, a joint exercise will be held to handle sea pollution. These and other examples are the day-to-day meaning of the peace between our two countries.
The crises that we have weathered over the years have proved that there is no substitute for continuing political dialogue between our two countries. This dialogue is vital, not only to ease the tensions and enhance trust between us, but primarily to examine various creative solutions to the issues that face us. We must continue to invest our efforts to expand the cooperation between our two nations so that this peace will continue to grow, among future generations as well.