Jordan king in rare West Bank trip seen as message to Israel


Jordan's King Abdullah II is to meet Monday with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on his first visit in five years to the West Bank city of Ramallah, a Palestinian official said. Abdullah recently announced the allocation of $1 million to support the Waqf، the religious trust that manages the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem، and a special grant for its employees.

Israel installed metal detectors at the gates of the site three weeks ago after three Palestinians opened fire on Israeli police forces deployed to the area, killing two of them.

After flying by military helicopter to Abbas's muqata presidential compound and being greeted by Abbas, the king reviewed an honor guard and the Jordanian and Palestinian national anthems were played before the two headed into talks. Tensions between Jordan and Israel eased after Jordanians handed over the Israeli guard and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to investigate the incident.

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Jordan's ad-Dustour newspaper on Monday quoted the Palestinian ambassador in Amman, Atallah Kheiry as terming the visit "historic". The measures triggered protests by Muslims.

In the middle of the crisis over the metal detectors, Abbas suspended security coordination with Israel, and it has remained suspended despite their removal.

The mosque compound is in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognised by the worldwide community. The two leaders will discuss how the peace process can be moved forward and Palestinian steps to counter Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, he added. In this regard, the Monarch said there would be no breakthrough in the peace process without a U.S. push for a solution.

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Israeli regime authorities shut down Al-Aqsa compound for nearly three days following a deadly shooting attack on July 14, only to reopen it after having installed increased and humiliating security measures.

Abbas reportedly praised Abdullah for his efforts to defuse the recent Temple Mount crisis.

Jordan intervened in July to help resolve a crisis over access to the ultra-sensitive Haram al-Sharif mosque compound known to Jews as Temple Mount.

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Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told journalists after the two-hour meeting between Abdullah and Abbas that "we evaluated the experience and are preparing for future actions that we expect from Israel and from the person of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu", he said, according to the PA's official news site Wafa.