Jordanian king’s rare trip to Ramallah seen as warning to Israel

Abdullah’s visit to the PA – his first since December 2012 – signals that Amman is siding with Ramallah on the Temple Mount crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jordan’s king flew by helicopter to Ramallah on Monday — a rare and brief visit seen as a signal to Israel that he is closing ranks with the Palestinians on key issues, most notably the Temple Mount crisis.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Abdullah II met for about two hours, after a red-carpet welcome for the monarch at the Palestinian government compound in Ramallah.

The two leaders discussed the recent showdown with Israel over the Mount – administered by the Jordanian Muslim Trust since Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem in June 1967 – including confronting alleged Israeli attempts to expand its role there, said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki.

“This evaluation is very important for us to prepare for the coming stage we expect from Israel and from (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu personally,” Malki said.

Israel has denied allegations by Muslims that it was trying to encroach on their rights at the holy site, which is also revered by Jews. Netanyahu has vowed to maintain the status quo.

Abdullah’s visit to the Palestinian Authority, his first in five years, came at a time of rising Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

The crisis erupted when Israel installed metal detectors at gates to the compound after Arab terrorists killed two Israeli policemen there in mid-July. The measures triggered protests by Muslims and a number of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis, the most tragic being the slaughter of three members of the Salomon family in the Jewish community of Halamish in Samaria.

Israel removed the devices after a few days, following intervention from the United States, Jordan and others, although thousands of Palestinians continued their mass protests. The step was seen by many in Israel as a capitulation and by Palestinians and the Arab world as a victory.

The Temple Mount is the third-holiest site of Islam and the most sacred one in Judaism.

Abdullah: ‘One Stand with our Palestinian Brothers’

On Sunday, Abdullah told lawmakers in Jordan that “without the Hashemite custodianship and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, the holy sites would have been lost many years ago.”

“Our success requires one stand with our Palestinian brothers, so that our cause wouldn’t be weakened and our rights would be maintained,” he said.

However, the monarch’s role in the standoff with Israel was complicated by a July 23 shooting in which an Israeli guard at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan killed two Jordanians after one had attacked him with a screwdriver.

The guard was released by Jordan the next day, after a phone call between the king and Netanyahu. A few hours later, the metal detectors were dismantled.

The guard’s release, though in line with diplomatic protocol, has inflamed Jordanian public opinion, especially after the shooter was given a warm welcome by Netanyahu. The king blasted the prime minister’s actions as “provocative.”

Since the embassy shooting, Abdullah has taken several steps that appeared aimed at appeasing Jordanian public opinion, including a donation of $1.4 million towards the Muslim administration of the Temple Mount.

Separately, Abbas has said his government will allocate $25 million to improve services for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

No Breakthrough in Peace Talks

In Ramallah, Abdullah and Abbas also reportedly discussed US efforts to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations based on a two-state solution, with the Jordanian monarch siding with the PA demands for a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Trump’s chief international negotiator Jason Greenblatt has made several visits to Amman, Ramallah and Jerusalem in the past several months, although there appears to be no breakthrough. Indeed, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was heard saying in an off-the-record discussion that there actually may be no solution to the conflict.

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By: AP and World Israel News Staff