New Jordanian ambassador to Israel pressed by tribe to reject position

The appointment of a new Jordanian ambassador to Israel has sparked a wave of protest among members of the biggest Jordanian tribe, from which the new ambassador hails.

London-based Al-Hayat newspaper said the newly-appointed minister, Walid Obeidat, has received several demands from members of the tribe asking him to refuse the appointment, which the tribal leadership rejects.

Figures close to the Jordanian ambassador told Al-Hayat that he has received offers of hefty financial rewards to go back on his decision to accept the position. Rich businessmen from the tribe offered to pay him around US$10 million if he declined the appointment.

They also said he was offered the chance to run as a candidate for all of the families in the tribe in the upcoming parliamentary election and for several following elections.

The Obeidat tribe had announced the end of a grace period it gave the ambassador to reject the position. Politicians and writers say the pressure heaped on him are a sign of tribal supremacy over the state and that it is the first such incident in the country.

Last week, Israel called on the newly appointed ambassador not to bow to pressure, and Israeli Radio cited political sources in Jerusalem as saying that they hope the new Jordanian ambassador will accept the appointment, calling for him not to submit to pressures from ‘extremists.”

The first Jordanian killed in the Palestinian territories, who had led battles against the British mandate in the 1920s, was from the Obeidat tribe.

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