Jordanian king in rare visit to Palestinian president

AFP

© AFP/File / by Shatha Yaish and Hossam Ezzedine | Israeli security forces stand guard in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 27, 2017

RAMALLAH (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) – Jordan’s King Abdullah II began a rare visit to the occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday, amid shared tensions with Israel over a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

In his first visit to Abbas’s headquarters in Ramallah in five years, Abdullah was welcomed on a red carpet near his helicopter by the Palestinian leader before the two national anthems were played.

The two men did not address the media but shook hands with senior Palestinian officials.

The visit came less than two weeks after the end of a standoff at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem where Israel had imposed new security measures, including metal detectors, following an attack that killed two policemen.

Jordan, which is the custodian of the site, reacted angrily to the new measures, while Palestinians responded with days of protests.

The tensions were exacerbated on July 23 when an Israeli security guard shot dead two Jordanians at the Israeli embassy compound in the capital Amman.

One of the two men attacked the Israeli with a screwdriver, while the other was apparently shot dead by accident, according to Israeli officials.

The crisis eased on July 27 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the removal of the metal detectors, while he has also promised to investigate the embassy incident.

Abdullah’s visit was seen by analysts as providing support to Abbas, who has been isolated by Israel over his response to the Al-Aqsa row.

The mosque compound is in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.

The 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan recognises Amman’s special status as official custodian of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim sites.

About half of Jordan’s 9.5 million citizens are of Palestinian origin.

‘Anger’

Netanyahu’s removal of the metal detectors was seen by Palestinians as a victory.

At Abbas’s headquarters a large banner was erected with a picture of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound with the slogan “Jerusalem is victorious.”

“It appears that King Abdullah wants to show through his visit that he stands with the Palestinian people in the battle for Jerusalem,” Palestinian political analyst Abdel Majid Sweilem told AFP.

In a statement on the official state news agency Petra, the king was quoted as saying that without Jordanian “custodianship and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, the holy sites would have been lost many years ago.”

In the middle of the crisis over the metal detectors, Abbas suspended security coordination with Israel, and it has remained suspended despite their removal.

As such 82-year-old Abbas cannot leave the West Bank as Israel controls the border crossings.

“This visit sends a message from his majesty that he is willing to contribute to removing president Abbas’s isolation following his decision to stop the security coordination with Israel,” Samir Awad, politics professor at Birzeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank, told AFP.

In January US President Donald Trump came to power promising to push Israelis and Palestinians towards a peace deal, raising brief hopes among Palestinians that his unconventional approach could achieve results.

But they have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as his negotiating team’s one-sided approach.

Trump’s team have yet to publicly commit themselves to the two-state solution, the idea of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel that has been the basis of decades of international consensus.

Leading Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat has strongly criticised the “silence” of the US administration over Israeli settlement growth and its lack of support for the two-state solution.

The Jordanian ruler seemed to echo those remarks, calling for intensive US effort to help bridge the gap between the sides, according to Petra.

by Shatha Yaish and Hossam Ezzedine
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One Response to “Jordanian king in rare visit to Palestinian president”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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