Nearly 18 years have passed since Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein signed the Jordan Valley peace agreement, normalizing relations between Israel and Jordan. But even the most obsessive observers of Israeli-Jordanian ties find it hard to remember an encounter as extraordinary and emotional as the one that took place in Jerusalem mid-June, away from the limelight, between veterans of the Six Day War from both sides.
A group of 20 veterans, mostly-high ranking Jordanian and Israeli retired officers, met in Jerusalem June 18 and 19, and toured the sites of battles that pitted them against each other nearly half a century ago. “We once looked at each other through the barrels of guns,” said one man. “Now we shook hands and exchanged war stories.”
‘Humanity hasn’t yet found the way to avoid war, but when you meet the soldier who fought against you, you realize he’s just a person and you ask yourself, “What were we doing killing each other?”‘
The meeting was organized by the Israeli Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF) and Jordan’s Amman Center for Peace and Development (ACPD), and funded by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The Israeli veterans, unsentimental warriors in their seventies and eighties, told The Times of Israel they were deeply moved by the encounter with the Jordanians.