Jordan says it beefs up army presence along borders with Israel

FILE PHOTO: Jordanian PM Bisher al-Khasawneh speaks during a news conference in Beirut

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan said on Tuesday the army had beefed up its presence along its borders with Israel and warned that any Israeli attempt to forcibly push Palestinians across the Jordan River would represent a breach of its peace accord with its neighbour.

Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh said his country would resort to "all the means in its power" to prevent Israel from implementing any transfer policy to expel Palestinians en masse from the West Bank.

The Israel-Gaza conflict has stirred long-standing fears in Jordan, home to a large population of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Right-wing, ultra-nationalist hardliners now in the Israeli government have long espoused a Jordan-is-Palestine solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Israel has launched a massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip since the deadly Oct. 7 rampage by the Islamist group Hamas into southern Israel, that has left some 1.7 million of Gaza's 2.3 million people internally displaced

"Any displacements or creating the conditions that would lead to it, Jordan will consider it a declaration of war and constitutes a material breach of the peace treaty," state media quoted Khasawneh as saying, referring to the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

"This would lead to the liquidation of the Palestinian cause and to harming the national security of Jordan," Khasawneh added.

Jordan, the second Arab country after Egypt to sign a peace accord, has had strong security ties with Israel. But relations have plummeted since the advent of one of the most right-wing governments in Israel's history.

"The peace treaty would be a piece of paper on a shelf covered with dust if Israel did not respect its obligations and violated it," Khasawneh said.

Any threat to Jordan's national security would "put all options on the table", Khasawneh said, adding that recent deployments of troops along the borders with Israel were part of measures to protect the country's security.

Residents and witnesses have seen large columns of armoured vehicles and tanks moving along a main highway leading to the Jordan Valley opposite the West Bank in the last few days.

Officials say the army was already in a heightened alert for any eventualities.

Khasawneh said Israeli actions in the West Bank could trigger wider violence, citing growing Jewish settler attacks on Palestinian civilians since the Oct. 7 attacks.

Washington has also urged Israel to curb settler violence, fearing wider conflict.

"Israel should steer away from any escalation in the West Bank... This is a red line Jordan won't accept," the prime minister added.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; editing by Jonathan Oatis)