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Why Israel Can and Must Help as Jordan's Economy Implodes

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It’s perfectly understandable that here in Israel we can look on at the collapse of the Lebanese economy with studied indifference. That’s the plus side of being in a perpetual state of war with your neighbor. All Israel needs to do is sit back, relax and watch as the situation goes from bad to worse and Hezbollah twists in the wind.

Unfortunately, a similar dynamic is developing in Jordan, which is also next door to Israel, but isn't an enemy state. The economy is deteriorating and it’s by no means clear that King Abdullah has any plausible strategy for coping with the problem. Yet, Israel seems to relate to it like another Lebanon, so near and yet so far, and not our problem. If anything, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be making matters worse for the king with his talk of annexing the Jordan Valley, in his desperate effort to stay in power by appealing to rightist voters.

In terms of economic distress, in many ways Jordan looks like Lebanon. Its economy has been growing so slowly for the last decade that GDP per capita has actually shrunk. Its debt is 94% of GDP, less than Lebanon’s 150%-plus but dangerously high. Unemployment is in the double digits and both economies depend on bloated public sectors to provide make-work jobs. The Syrian war has taken a toll on both, cutting off trade ties and flooding them with refugees who have to be housed, fed and cared for. Lebanon is........

© Haaretz