Jor­da­nian King backs Pales­tinian leader

On a rare visit to West Bank, King Ab­dul­lah stressed ‘full sup­port’ for a Pales­tinian state with its cap­i­tal in East Jerusalem

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Ramallah, Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries - Jor­dan’s King Ab­dul­lah II of­fered sup­port to Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas dur­ing a rare visit on Mon­day to the oc­cu­pied West Bank fol­low­ing ten­sions with Is­rael over a flash­point Jerusalem holy site.

Ab­dul­lah’s first trip to the West Bank in five years was seen as a mes­sage to Is­rael and the United States over the sen­si­tive Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound and the stalled peace process.

It came less than two weeks af­ter the end of a stand­off at the holy site over new se­cu­rity mea­sures, in­clud­ing metal de­tec­tors, im­posed by Is­rael fol­low­ing an at­tack that killed two po­lice­men.

Ab­dul­lah stressed to Ab­bas ‘the full Jor­da­nian sup­port for the le­git­i­mate rights of its brothers the Pales­tinian peo­ple and sup­port for the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tinian state with its cap­i­tal in east Jerusalem’, a state­ment from Jor­dan’s royal palace said.

He backed the need to pro­tect Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound, warn­ing Is­raeli at­tempts to change the sta­tus quo - un­der which Jor­dan is cus­to­dian of the site and Jewish prayer is for­bid­den - ‘would have neg­a­tive con­se­quences for the whole re­gion’.

The Al-Aqsa com­pound is also holy to Jews, who re­fer to it as the Tem­ple Mount as it is be­lieved to be on the site of the first and sec­ond Jewish Tem­ples, the lat­ter of which was de­stroyed by the Ro­mans in 70CE.

Ab­dul­lah also ‘called for the com­mit­ment of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to work to re­alise peace be­tween Pales­tini­ans and Is­raelis’.

The King flew by he­li­copter to Ramallah and was given a red car­pet wel­come by Ab­bas. He re­turned to Jor­dan af­ter a meet- ing that lasted around an hour and a half. The King did not meet any Is­raeli of­fi­cials.

Jor­dan re­acted an­grily last month to the new se­cu­rity mea­sures at the mosque com­pound, which sparked sev­eral days of protests and clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City, the oc­cu­pied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Pales­tinian For­eign Min­is­ter Riyad al Malki told re­porters that Ab­bas and Ab­dul­lah on Mon­day dis­cussed ‘di­rect Is­raeli at­tacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque’.

Ten­sions were ex­ac­er­bated on July 23 when an Is­raeli se­cu­rity guard shot dead two Jor­da­ni­ans at the Is­raeli Em­bassy com­pound in Am­man.

One of the two men at­tacked the Is­raeli with a screw­driver, and the other was ap­par­ently shot dead by ac­ci­dent, Is­raeli of­fi­cials said.

The cri­sis eased on July 27 when Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu or­dered the re­moval of the metal de­tec­tors. He has also promised to in­ves­ti­gate the em­bassy in­ci­dent.

Ab­dul­lah’s visit was seen by an­a­lysts as a show of sup­port for Ab­bas, who has been iso­lated by Is­rael over his re­sponse to the Al-Aqsa row.

The mosque com­pound is in East Jerusalem, oc­cu­pied by Is­rael in 1967 in a move never recog­nised by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.


Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas (left) and Jor­dan’s King Ab­dul­lah II (cen­tre) in­spect the hon­our guard dur­ing the lat­ter’s visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Mon­day

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