Netanyahu’s visit to Jordan comes amid strained relations over an attempt by the Israeli far-right to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jordan’s King Abdullah held a meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the capital Amman on Tuesday, according to a statement from Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court of Justice amid heightened diplomatic tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem.
Tuesday’s meeting was attended by an Israeli delegation, as well as several Jordanian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Amman summoned the Israeli ambassador after his envoy Ghassan Majali was prevented from entering the mosque on January 17.
The Jordanian ambassador’s visit to the mosque came after far-right Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir stormed the mosque compound – Islam’s third holiest site – and was condemned by the Muslim world. The Palestinians called it “an unprecedented provocation.”
The Jordan-led Jerusalem Waqf is the exclusive authority overseeing holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
According to the statement, King Abdullah “stressed the importance of respecting the historical and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram-Al-Sharif.”
The status quo on the site has been threatened by repeated (many successful) attempts by right-wing Jewish groups to enter the Esplanade.
Jews are forbidden to pray on the premises; However, some far-right Israelis have called for a change in the religious status quo and would like to be allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa compound.
This is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to Jordan and first meeting with the king since June 2018 [File: Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via Reuters]
The site is also home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram al-Sharif) and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
King Abdullah “stressed the need to remain calm and cease all acts of violence in order to pave the way for a political horizon for the peace process and called for an end to all actions that could undermine the prospects for peace,” the statement continued.
The King reiterated Jordan’s support for a two-state solution that would guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967 border lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.
Israel captured and later annexed East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, a move unrecognized by most of the international community.
“Discussions also covered bilateral relations and the need for the Palestinian people to benefit from economic and regional projects,” the statement said.
His Majesty King Abdullah II meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Amman and stresses the importance of respecting the historical and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram-Al-Sharif#Jordan
— RHC (@RHCJO) January 24, 2023
This is Netanyahu’s first visit to Jordan and the first meeting with the king since June 2018.
It is also Netanyahu’s first trip abroad since he became prime minister again in December.
According to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, “the two leaders discussed regional issues, particularly strategic, security and economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan, which contributes to regional stability.”
נפגשתי היום עם מלך ירדן עבדאללה. “
– Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) January 24, 2023
Translation: Today I met with King Abdullah of Jordan. We discussed regional issues and emphasized the strategic, security and economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan, which contributes to the stability of the region.
“They also commended the longstanding friendship and partnership between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom,” the statement added.