Middle East Eye / March 28, 2022
During the two-hour meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah emphasized the need to ‘maintain the status quo’ across holy sites in order to prevent violence.
Jordan’s King Abdullah met with Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Monday, in a bid to ease tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The visit lasted about two hours and it was Abdullah’s first trip since 2017. The leaders stressed the need to maintain calm and enhance stability before the anniversary of last year’s tensions in Jerusalem which later triggered Israel’s 11-day offensive on Gaza.
“We arrived in Ramallah today to hear what the Palestinians are demanding and to reduce the obstacles and challenges they face,” Abdullah said.
According to Haaretz, Abdullah called on Israel to “freeze all unilateral measures, especially in Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, that hinder a regional settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state”.
He also emphasized the need to “maintain the status quo” across holy sites in order to prevent violence.
After the meeting, in a video in Arabic released by the Jordan Royal Hashemite Court, Abbas said: “We and Jordan are one. Our interests, concerns, pain and hope are the same.”
This visit comes just a day after Abbas met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In the meeting, the Palestinian leader criticized the West’s “double standards” which he said penalized Russia over its invasion of Ukraine while ignoring Israel’s “crimes” against Palestinians.
Blinken held talks with Abbas on the first full day of a trip that included a meeting with the foreign ministers of Israel and four Arab countries which have normalized relations with Israel.
Tensions erupted last Ramadan when Israel tried to expel Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers.
This prompted widespread protests across the occupied West Bank and the Palestinian community inside Israel, triggering Israel’s large-scale military operation on the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2021.
According to Axios, US officials have been working to maintain calm in Jerusalem ahead of the anniversary of the conflict where around 250 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, 29 in the occupied West Bank, and 13 people were killed in Israel.
Still, Israeli settlers have continued to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque despite the efforts to reduce tensions.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Jordan has been the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites since the 1920s. The compound, which sits on a tree-lined plateau in the Old City, is also revered by Jews who call it Temple Mount.
Israeli far-right activists have repeatedly pushed for an increased Jewish presence at the site and some have advocated for the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for a Third Temple.
Jordan’s King Abdullah meets President Abbas in signal of support for Palestinians
The National / March 28, 2022
Kingdom seeks bigger role in the Middle East after Joe Biden took over US presidency in November 2020.
It was the monarch’s first trip to Ramallah since 2017, coming days before Ramadan, historically a period of increased tension between the Palestinians and Israel.
“We and the Palestinians are closer to each other, and are in the same trench,” Jordanian state television quoted the king as saying.
King Abdullah is in regular contact with Mr Abbas, but previous meetings have taken place in Amman, not Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority warned this month that Israel must prevent incursions into Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, if it “wants to prevent friction.”
Jordan is regarded as the custodian of Al-Aqsa Mosque and of other holy places in Jerusalem.
The kingdom has been seeking a more high-profile role in the region since the November 2020 election of US President Joe Biden. Jordanian officials believe his predecessor Donald Trump side-lined the kingdom, especially when dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The visit is part of continued discussions with Mr Abbas “to confront all the challenges regarding many issues of concern” to the two men, said the official Palestinian news agency.
Mr Abbas has a de facto second headquarters in Jordan, where he regularly meets Arab and western officials.
King Abdullah met leaders from Iraq, Egypt and the UAE in the port city of Aqaba last week.
Jordanian state television said on Monday that Jordan was making efforts to support Palestinians by “finding a political horizon to meet all their legitimate rights on the basis of a two-state solution”.
A large proportion of Jordan’s 10 million people are of Palestinian origin.
Jordanian officials have been increasingly critical of Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, which they say could eventually prompt another migration of Palestinians to Jordan after two refugee waves in 1948 and 1968.