Jordan – Israel rebukes Jordan over restrictions on religious Jews

The Yitzhak Rabin Border Crossing | File photo: Yan Hazan

Amman – Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has recently sent an official démarche to Jordan in protest of the kingdom’s treatment of religious Jewish tourists, Israel Hayom has exclusively learned.

The letter of protestation comes on the heels of a troubling incident some two weeks ago in the Yitzhak Rabin Crossing north of Eilat when 150 Haredi Jews were essentially imprisoned for 48 hours upon entering the Jordanian side. According to their version of events, the Jordanian security officials insisted that they cut their traditional sidelocks. The official reason cited by the guards was that it was safer for tourists not to be visibly Jewish while traveling.

Israel has rejected that claim and as a result, Cohen has taken the usual step of issuing the rebuke letter, sending it to the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv. In the letter, he writes that it is not the first time religious Jews are asked to take such discriminatory steps.

The Jordanian restrictions of this nature have been documented for several years now, and it includes a prohibition on having Jews publicly wear kippot or bring Jewish scripture, prayer shawls, and phylacteries, as well as kosher food. In his letter, Cohen said that while Israel appreciates the Jordanian desire to ensure the Israelis’ security, it is inconceivable that this would result in having them not enter Jordan or force them to dispose of Jewish artifacts. He called on the Jordanian side to end this policy and offered to conduct dialogue to find a solution.

“It is just beyond the pale that Israelis would be discriminated against in the border crossing and denied entry just because they are religious Jews,” Cohen said. “The peace between Israel and Jordan is important for both countries. We will engage the embassy in Israel and the Jordanian authorities so that we can find a solution for thousands of Israelis who want to visit Jordan but cannot currently do so just because they carry various items. We are taking many diplomatic steps to resolve this issue.”

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