Jordan’s foreign minister touts ‘tremendous’ US shift [sic] on Palestine

Joyce Karam

The National  /  September 23, 2021

Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi also tells ‘The National’ that he expects Washington to allow Jordanian electricity transfers to Lebanon via Syria.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has welcomed Washington’s change in stance on Palestine, after US President Joe Biden reversed some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s staunchly pro-Israel policies.

“We do see a tremendous positive change in the US position vis-à-vis [the Palestinian] issue,” Mr Safadi, who is also deputy prime minister, told The National in an interview from the UN General Assembly.

He pointed to Mr Biden’s comments at the UNGA a day earlier, when the president said he supported a two-state solution, which was a long-held US position until Mr Trump hedged on that commitment in the last four years.

The Biden administration has walked back several other Trump-era policies including opposing the expansion of Israeli settlements, recognizing all UN-registered Palestinians, resuming aid to UNRWA, restarting talks with the Palestinian Authority and planning to reopen a consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Critical for Jordan was the US “urging respect for the historical status quo in Jerusalem and the holy sites,” Mr Safadi said. Jordan has had custodianship over some of the Muslim sites since 1948.

The close working relationship between Mr Safadi and his US counterpart Antony Blinken helped to mitigate the Sheikh Jarrah crisis and the intense violence between Israel and Gaza in May.

While an earnest resumption of talks for a two-state solution is unlikely in the current political climate, short-term goals such as preventing Israeli provocations in Jerusalem and another war with Hamas appear to be working.

“We’ve all heard President Biden and Secretary [Antony] Blinken and others in the administration reiterating commitment to a two-state solution, opposition to settlements, urging respect for the historical status quo in Jerusalem and the holy sites, we’ve worked very closely with them during the [Gaza] crisis … to calm things down, and we work very effectively with them in order to avoid provocative measures in Jerusalem,” Mr Safadi said.

Mr Safadi called King Abdullah’s July visit to the White House “historic”, as he was the first Arab leader to be received by Mr Biden as president.


Joyce Karam – Washington Correspondent, Washington, DC