Jor­dan’s monarch makes a rare visit to the West Bank

The trip is seen as a show of sup­port for Pales­tini­ans af­ter the Jerusalem shrine cri­sis.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Noga Tarnopol­sky Tarnopol­sky is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Jor­dan’s king and the Pales­tinian Author­ity pres­i­dent held a short meet­ing in the West Bank on Monday, a move seen by some ob­servers as an act of unity dur­ing a time of height­ened ten­sion with Is­rael.

King Ab­dul­lah II met with Pales­tinian leader Mah­moud Ab­bas in Ramallah dur­ing the king’s first visit to the West Bank in five years.

Of­fi­cials said the lead­ers dis­cussed re­cent ten­sion with Is­rael tied to a Jerusalem plateau known by Jews as the Tem­ple Mount and by Mus­lims as the Noble Sanc­tu­ary.

Af­ter Arab-Is­raeli gun­men shot dead two Is­raeli po­lice­men at the shrine com­pound last month, Is­rael in­stalled metal de­tec­tors at the en­trance to the es­planade of the mosques, an area con­tain­ing the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque, which re­sulted in Mus­lim protests. The de­vices were re­moved by Is­rael a short time later af­ter Jor­dan and oth­ers in­ter­vened.

Jor­dan, which is the of­fi­cial cus­to­dian of Jerusalem’s Mus­lim holy sites un­der the coun­try’s peace treaty with Is­rael, of­ten plays a me­di­at­ing role in the re­gion.

The elec­tronic se­cu­rity de­vices were viewed by Mus­lims as an Is­raeli en­croach­ment on their sovereignty over the site. Is­rael has said it was not try­ing to en­croach on Mus­lim rights.

“This is an im­por­tant visit in terms of the ties be­tween Pales­tine and Jor­dan, es­pe­cially af­ter what hap­pened in Jerusalem,” said Muham­mad Hus­sein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem.

Ab­dul­lah, who re­ceived a red-car­pet welcome Monday, did not travel to Jerusalem, which is about 12 miles away.

An­war Ben Badis, a pro­fes­sor at the He­brew Univer­sity in Jerusalem and an ex­pert on Pales­tinian af­fairs, said in an in­ter­view, “The sym­bol­ism is more im­por­tant than in­sti­tu­tions in Pales­tinian pol­i­tics.”

Af­ter the visit, Pales­tinian ne­go­tia­tor Saeb Erekat called on the U.S. govern­ment to re­assert its com­mit­ment to a two-state peace plan be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans.

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice

KING AB­DUL­LAH II of Jor­dan, left, is greeted by Pales­tinian Author­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas.

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