Jordan is looking for wealthy investors – but not Jews
Amman – in order to cope with the financial distress of Jordan, the government seeks to encourage foreign investors to invest their money in the local economy. Last week, it presented an unprecedented plan to grant foreign investors Jordanian citizenship or permanent residency provided they meet one of several conditions: $ 1.5 million investment in government bonds; a $ 1 million investment in a small or medium-sized business in Jordan for a period of five years; a $ 2 million investment in a project of the kingdom ($ 1.5 million only if the business is outside Amman and provides at least 20 job-opportunities for a period of three years). The government also determined that a foreign citizen would be granted a permanent resident status if he purchased real estate worth $ 280,000 and would not sell it for ten years.
Last week, the government plan turned into an anti-Semitic incident, exposing the bitter animosity of large sections of the Jordanian public not only to the “Zionist entity” but also to Judaism. Following the concern expressed by many Jordanians on social networks and the media, at least 15 Jordanian MPs asked the prime minister on Wednesday to amend his citizenship plan. These members, most of them members of the Islamist opposition, demanded that Jewish businessmen should not benefit from the citizenship program.
The Jordanian MP’s concern was the government’s clarification that citizenship would apply to any foreign investor regardless his or her religion. However, the government left itself an escape route: it announced that citizenship would be granted in accordance with “security considerations”. Khalil Atiya, one of the MPs who signed the petition, expressed the feelings of the Jordanian public when he warned that if the amendment was not carried out “Jews and Zionists” would take control of the kingdom’s economy.
The Jordanian government which is still severely criticized for its gas deal with Israel, has not officially responded to the demand but seemed inclined to accept at least part of it. A source in the government told one of the Arabic media channels that Israelis would not be able to obtain Jordanian citizenship, since Israel does not allow Jordanian investors to receive Israeli citizenship. This restriction is the result of the 1994 peace agreement between the two countries and is intended to prevent Jordanian citizenship from Israeli investors operating in industrial zones established after the signing of the agreement.