Have Jordan and Israel finally overcome decades of poor diplomatic relations? Military observers are speculating about a new era of relations between the two countries after Israeli air force fuel tankers escorted Jordanian fighter jets across the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week to participate in military exercises in the western United States, an American website devoted to military aviation news reports.
Foxtrot Alpha reports that five Jordanian air force F-16s were seen flying alongside Israel air force KC-707 fuel tankers in the mid-Atlantic. The fleet of aircraft were traveling to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where they were scheduled to take part in an air-to-air combat training exercise hosted by the United States for its military allies.
The aircraft travel came after a U.S. official told Reuters last month that Israel had gifted retired Cobra combat helicopters to Jordan to help fight off militants battling along the Syrian and Iraqi borders. "These choppers are for border security," the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met last year with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman, Jordan, to discuss a peace deal between Jews and Palestinians. It was a rare meeting for Netanyahu and Abdullah, who have fought for control of holy sites in Jerusalem in the past.
“The king has been extremely unhappy,” said Jawad Anani, a member of the energy committee in the Jordanian Senate and former chief of the royal court, about the holy site dispute last year. “Jordan could not afford to maintain its relations with Israel if the status quo is upended. It is that serious. The Israeli extremists are playing with fire.”