From Enemies To Partners: 20 Years Since Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty

A regular, minimal IAF aircrew flew the king and only a handful of people knew of his visits From Enemies To Partners: 20 Years Since Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty From Enemies To Partners: 20 Years Since Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty

The Israeli and Jordanian air forces held a joint flyover that was called “Peace Flyover” In October 1994, the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed. The air forces of both countries played a significant role prior to the agreements and brought them to fruition through different forms of cooperation afterwards

Naomi Tzoref

Twenty years have passed since the signing ceremony of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, which was held on the 26th of October 1994. Then-Prime Minister, the late Yitzchak Rabin and the late King Hussein of Jordan, signed the treaty at the new border crossing that had been created just north of Eilat. The IAF played a significant role both in the period preceding the peace treaty and in its implementation afterwards.

Approximately 30 years before the signing of the agreement, meetings were held between the late King Hussein and senior Israeli officials, with some of the meetings being held in Jordan and some in Israel. The late King Hussein would arrive to the meetings in Israel flying a Jordanian helicopter. He arrived at one of the meeting points that was determined ahead of time, where an IAF helicopter regularly waited for him to fly him to different areas in Israel.
A regular, minimal IAF aircrew flew the king and only a handful of people knew of his visits.

Each time the King was flown in, a cover story was created, including a code name that was known only to the aircrew. When they heard it on the phone, they understood that it was another flight with the Jordanian King.
One of the few aircrew members that flew the king was Lieutenant Colonel (Res.) Yuval, who was given the unofficial title of “King Hussein’s Israeli Pilot”, as he was the only Israeli pilot who flew King Hussein between the years 1971-1976.”Personally, I felt great satisfaction from these flights”, he said in an interview with IAF Magazine. “Many times, helicopter pilots feel that they are on behalf of others, saving lives, rescuing people who are injured, etc. On flights where I flew King Hussein, that is exactly what I felt. I felt I was doing something for the sake of peace. These flights may have saved lives and maybe even prevented war. In 1973, (King) Hussein did not take part in the war. I don’t know if that’s related but I feel that I played a small role”.

The Peace Flight
On the one year anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty, the Israeli and Jordanian air forces held a joint flyover that was called “Peace Flyover”. During the flyover, Israeli helicopters were seen alongside Jordanian helicopters that carried the flags of both countries and a flag showing the words “Shalom/Salaam”. “There’s no doubt that flying together with pilots who trained for many years to fight us and who until recently were considered enemies, is a special experience. The meeting with them proved that it’s possible to put a long conflict behind us and to chart a new course, if you can create a common interest between two nations”.

Over the years, additional forms of cooperation have been formed: in 1997, when the Royal Jordanian Air Force purchased F-16 fighters of the kind that the IAF holds in its possession, then-IAF Commander, Major General (res.) Herzl Bodinger came up with an interesting proposal. “I proposed to the Jordanians assistance and cooperation in the field of instruction and maintenance”, he explained in an interview with IAF Magazine. “Whatever they want, they’ll get from us”.

 

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