Jordan defers to Islamists, allows ‘March to Jerusalem’

Special to

AMMAN — Jordan, under strong pressure from the Islamist opposition
and its foreign backers has allowed a scheduled march by up to one million
Muslims to Israel.

Officials said the Hashemite kingdom has relayed formal approval for the
so-called “Global March to Jerusalem” on March 30.  The procession, organized
by Hamas and Hizbullah, would begin in the Jordan Valley and then march
across the river into the West Bank and toward Jerusalem.

The "Global March to Jerusalem" is scheduled for March 30.

“There will be a heavy presence to ensure calm,” Jordanian
security spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammed Khatib said.

The Jordanian approval came in wake of heavy pressure by Israel to block the march. Officials said Israeli security agencies provided evidence that march organizers aimed to enter the West Bank and clash with Jewish residents.

“This will be a peaceful rally in support of Jerusalem, not a call to
storm Jerusalem,” Khatem Ayesh, a march organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood, said. “We are taking every precaution possible and are coordinating with concerned authorities to make sure our call for the end to the occupation is a peaceful call.”

Officials said Jordanian authorities rejected the Israeli request to
cancel the march. They said Jordanian security forces would be prepared to stop the Islamists from reaching the Jordan River, and some 10 kilometers
from the nearest bridge to the West Bank. In November 2011, Jordanian
security forces prevented thousands of Islamists from reaching the Jordan

“We cannot prevent things that are peaceful, non-violent and do not
threaten the security of the kingdom,” Jordanian Communications Minister
Rakan Majali said.

The Islamist march was also planning to cross into Israel from Egypt,
Lebanon and Syria. Similar efforts in 2011 led to the death of more than 20
marchers, many of them Palestinians from nearby refugee camps.