Jordan’s king warns of ‘breakdown of law and order’ between Israelis and Palestinians

Jordan's King Abdullah II expressed concern for the potential of an outbreak of violence (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  December 28, 2022

King Abdullah II says Jordan has ‘clear red lines’ on custodianship of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites’.

Jordanian King Abdullah II said his country was prepared for conflict if its “red lines” over Jerusalem’s holy sites were crossed, as he expressed concern for the potential of an outbreak of violence in neighbouring Israel and the occupied West Bank.

“We have to be concerned about a next intifada (uprising)”, the Jordanian leader said in an interview with CNN that aired on Wednesday. “If that happens, that’s a complete breakdown of law and order and one that neither the Israelis nor Palestinians will benefit from.”

The CNN interview aired the day before Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to return to power as Israel’s prime minister. On Wednesday, Netanyahu submitted coalition deals to Israel’s parliament that put him at the head of the most far-right government in Israeli history.

Netanyahu has promoted allies to power who have advocated sweeping changes to longtime rules over prayer at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, as well as promoting the annexation of much of the occupied West Bank.

The Hashemite royal family of Jordan are custodians of both the Muslim and Christian holy sites in the city of Jerusalem, going back to an agreement dating to the time of the British mandate of Palestine.

Abdullah was asked if he felt Israel’s incoming government threatened the status quo in Jerusalem and the Hashemite custodianship.

“If people want to get into a conflict with us, we are quite prepared,” he replied. “We have set red lines and if people want to push those red lines then we will deal with that.”

‘Naturally sympathetic to Palestine’

This year was the deadliest on record for Palestinians in nearly two decades. In total, Israeli forces and settlers have killed 166 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, in the West Bank – 29 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed by Palestinians in the same period.

The first intifada occurred in the late 1980s, the second in the early 2000s, and each saw waves of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Abdullah warned about the region’s ability to keep a lid on any third outbreak.

“That’s a tinderbox that if it flashes, it’s something that I don’t think we’ll be able to walk away from in the near future,” he said.

Jordan’s leader has had a testy relationship with Netanyahu, and in 2019 recalled his country’s ambassador to Israel over a series of spats.

In 2021, Jordan blocked then-Israeli prime minister Netanyahu from flying through its airspace as he was en route to Abu Dhabi, in retaliation for Israel cancelling Crown Prince Hussein’s visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound.

In his interview, Abdullah also pointed to an outpouring of support for Palestine among citizens of the Arab world during the World Cup, as evidence that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the only way for Israel to integrate fully into the region. 

“Integration of Israel into the region – which is extremely important – is not going to happen unless there is a future for the Palestinians,” he said. 

“If we [country leaders] can’t solve this problem, the street is naturally going to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.”