Palestinian president meets Jordan’s King Abdullah as US regional approach changes

Khaled Yacoub Oweis

The National  /  August 15, 2021

American policy adjustments in Middle East seen as advantageous for monarch and Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman on Sunday to discuss regional developments.

It was their first meeting since a new Israeli government took office in June and improved its ties with the Palestinian Authority, which Mr Abbas leads.

The two leaders discussed the latest political developments and Mr Abbas affirmed the “continuation of brotherly co-ordination,” the official Palestinian news agency said.

The two men said they strongly opposed the latest US peace plan under former president Donald Trump and that it posed a threat to national interests.

The election of President Joe Biden last year reversed the sidelining of Jordan under his predecessor and improved ties between the Palestinian Authority and Washington.

The head of Palestinian intelligence, Maj Gen Majed al-Faraj, and Jordanian intelligence chief Ahmad Hasani also attended the meeting, official media said.

King Abdullah “affirmed the need to intensify international efforts to achieve a just peace” during the meeting, Jordan’s state news agency reported.

The US played a crucial role in a ceasefire in May that ended 11 days of battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

One of the first public pronouncements by the Biden administration on the Middle East this year was to highlight the need for a two-state solution.

Peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel stopped in 2014 under the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the predecessor of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

This month, the US State Department criticized plans by Mr Bennett’s government to build at least 2,000 settler homes, saying such a move would undermine the two-state solution. It was the first direct criticism of Israeli settlement policy since Mr Biden was inaugurated in January.

The settlements are planned to be built on Palestinian land widely recognized as occupied territory.

Mr Bennett is expected to visit Washington in the next few weeks. King Abdullah met Mr Biden in Washington last month.

Israeli media said that Mr Bennett had scaled down the settlement building plan by one third in the build-up to his US trip.

Last month, the Israeli health and environment ministers met their Palestinian counterparts in Jerusalem, the first such encounter in years.

Khaled Yacoub Oweis Jordan correspondent, Amman