A delegation of top Jewish-American leaders spoke with the king of Jordan Tuesday about subjects ranging from Syria to the monarch’s relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Some 100 delegates of the annual leadership mission of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations, which takes place this week in Jerusalem, met with King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Amman.
“The king spoke candidly about the situation in Syria, about the Muslim Brotherhood, about Turkey and his relationship with Netanyahu and Israel in general,” a conference official said.
The group is traveling back to Jerusalem, where it will hold a press conference about their meeting at 7 p.m.
“The king spent a lot of meaningful time with us,” said Martin Oliner, the chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, as he crossed the border into Israel Tuesday afternoon. The leaders spoke with King Abdullah for about 40 minutes and with Foreign Minister Judeh for about half an hour, he added. “We were given a very warm and gracious welcome by everybody we met.”
Conference CEO Malcolm Hoenlein told JTA the king expressed “appreciation” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking steps to help in “creating a climate in which negotiations [with the Palestinians] can move forward.”
The delegation expressed appreciation to the king for “the role he is playing in trying to bring the Palestinians to direct negotiations” with Israel, Hoenlein said.
‘Strong relationship with Hashemites’
“This is a turbulent time in the region, and we are delighted to be able to take this opportunity to visit the King and commend him for Jordan’s role – and his in particular – in supporting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and seeking to be a source of stability in a region in turmoil,” Conference President Richard Stone and Hoenlein said in a statement released before the meeting.
The Conference’s leaders, made up of delegates from 50 major Jewish organizations, further expressed their appreciation of the “strong relationship” between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom. But bilateral relations have been frosty since Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in 2010. Just two months ago, King Abdullah offered a friendly welcome to Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Amman. It was Mashaal’s first official visit to Jordan in 13 years.
Tuesday’s visit was not the first time leaders of the Conference of Presidents meet in Jordan with King Abdullah. In February 1999, mere weeks after he succeeded his father, King Hussein, the newly crowned king met with delegates for about 20 minutes. This was during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister.
During that meeting, King Abdullah said that “he looked forward to working” with Netanyahu and that he wants “to be considered a brother,” Hoenlein, who then served as the Conference’s executive vice chairman, told reporters.