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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

Jordan minister prompts Israeli protests after stepping on flag

Jumana Ghunaimat stepped on the Star of David on her way to a government meeting

Jordan's Prime Minister Omar Al Razzaz and Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat arrive for their news conference in Amman. Reuters
Jordan's Prime Minister Omar Al Razzaz and Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat arrive for their news conference in Amman. Reuters

Israel has formally complained to Jordan after one of its government ministers was pictured stepping on the Israeli flag as she paid a visit to a trade union in Amman.

Jumana Ghunaimat, the minister for media affairs and communications, who also serves as a government spokesperson, entered the front entrance of the Jordanian trade union headquarters.

On the floor of the entrance lies an Israeli Star of David, with footprints painted over it to allow visitors to step on the flag as a form of protest against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Jordan has held official diplomatic ties since 1994 when the two signed a peace treaty to normalise relations.

Israel summoned Jordan’s ambassador in Tel Aviv to the Foreign Ministry to explain the minister’s actions. It also complained to the Jordanian government in Amman.

At home, Ms Ghunaimat was lauded for her decision to enter the meeting and step on the flag.

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But Prime Minister Omar Razzaz was criticised in local media after he entered the building via a side entrance in a move aimed at avoiding flaring tensions with Israel.

Activists also shouted at him during his speech at the headquarters, accusing him of siding with Israel and supporting “the Zionist entity”.

The normalisation of relations with Israel remains an unpopular government policy among many Jordanians because of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem after taking the territories from Jordan in the 1968 Arab-Israeli War.

Jordan was also angered by the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in May at the request of Israel’s hard-right government.

In an apparent response to domestic pressure to rail against Israel, Jordan’s King Abdullah announced last month that he would not renew a 25-year lease Jordan had granted for Israel to use two small agricultural areas on Jordanian soil. They will be returned to Jordanian control within a year.

Updated: December 30, 2018 05:44 PM

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