Herzog met Abdullah this week in Amman, president’s office reveals

In sign of warming ties ahead of Biden’s visit to region, Israeli and Jordanian leaders discuss ‘deep strategic issues,’ bilateral relations

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israeli president Isaac Herzog (L) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (R). (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90, Alex Brandon/AP)
Israeli president Isaac Herzog (L) and Jordan's King Abdullah II (R). (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90, Alex Brandon/AP)

President Isaac Herzog met with Jordan’s King Abdullah earlier this week, the president’s office announced on Wednesday, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region.

Herzog’s visit to the Royal Palace on Monday also dealt with “diplomatic developments in the region,” according to a statement from the president’s spokesman.

“During the warm meeting, held at King Abdullah’s invitation, the president and the king discussed deep strategic issues, at both bilateral and regional levels,” read the statement.

The president’s office declined to comment on who accompanied Herzog on his trip.

Herzog’s office said that the visit had been coordinated with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry, among other offices.

The two leaders discussed ensuring the stability of bilateral relations, and “the need for dialogue with all actors in the region.”

Jordan’s foreign minister stayed away from the most prominent recent forum for dialogue between Israel and Arab countries, the March Negev Summit. Abdullah made a rare visit to Ramallah while the foreign ministers of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco met in Sde Boker.

The opening roundtable begins at the Negev Summit, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, clockwise from left, makes opening remarks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Herzog was last in Amman in March, during a wave of deadly terror attacks in Israel. Meeting with Herzog a day after a deadly terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, Abdullah decried “tragic attacks on civilians on both sides, and especially what happened last night.”

“Every life matters,” Abdullah told Herzog then, who flew in from Jerusalem.

In July 2021, Abdullah called Herzog to congratulate him on becoming Israel’s new president. Earlier that month, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with the Jordanian king in secret at the crown palace in Amman, in the first summit between the countries’ leaders in over three years.

Palestinians worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the last Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on April 29, 2022. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Ties with Jordan, which were tense under the previous government, had been markedly improving over the past year under the current government until tensions erupted during the month of Ramadan.

Showing its displeasure over statements made by Amman, Israel took a step back and avoided any high-level visits for several weeks. Last week, National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata visited Jordan, the first indication that ties were getting back on track ahead of Biden’s July 13-16 visit to Israel, the PA, and Saudi Arabia.

Biden will arrive at Ben Gurion Airport on July 13, and will be greeted by Yair Lapid, who is slated to be prime minister by then. He will also meet outgoing premier Naftali Bennett, with whom he has built a rapport over the past year. Eager to avoid the perception that he is meddling in Israel’s election, Biden will also meet with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

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