The new Dead Sea Research Institute will coordinate the work of four separate research bodies in Israel and Jordan that are working on the area from the Arava to the Jordan Valley, and are carrying out advanced studies for the benefit of the local population and neighboring peoples.
In what appears to be the first physical evidence of an ancient Jewish presence in Jordan, archaeologists discovered a menorah carving on a stone block in a church, which was likely originally part of a synagogue.
Newly-appointed Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki enjoys long and strong ties with Israeli leaders, which would not only enable him to smooth over bilateral differences, but also bring in Israeli capital and investment to help the faltering Jordanian economy.
Israel recently eased restrictions on Palestinians seeking to leave Gaza and travel abroad. But Jordan, which grants the transit visas, allegedly has been reluctant to do so. Jordan denies the allegation.
It is unclear why Jordan rejected Israel as the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994, which resolved the territorial disputes between the countries and included water-sharing agreements. The countries also signed a trade treaty in 1996, and economic ties since then have grown steadily.