Israeli annexation plans in the West Bank pose an “unprecedented danger” and could spark a “long and violent” conflict, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned Thursday during a rare visit to Ramallah.
Jordan’s top diplomat traveled by helicopter to the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority for talks with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The issue of annexation is an unprecedented danger to the peace process,” Safadi told journalists after the meeting.
“If annexation occurs, it will kill the two-state solution and destroy all the foundations on which the peace process was based. It will deprive the residents of the region of their right to live in peace and stability,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing plans to annex all settlements in the West Bank as well as the strategic Jordan Valley, moves given a tacit US blessing as part of a controversial peace initiative unveiled in January.
The government has said it could begin the annexation process from July 1, prompting Jordan to warn that it would review ties.
Safadi said the kingdom would continue to support Palestinians and “protect the region from the consequences of a long and violent conflict if Israel annexes a third of the occupied West Bank.”
“The Palestinian issue remains our central concern, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was and shall remain committed to every possible effort and everything it can to support our Palestinian brothers,” he added, saying that Jordan was “now concentrated on preventing annexation and creating the possibility of returning to serious and effective negotiations.”
Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have peace agreements with Israel.
The minister’s visit to Ramallah was the first by a high-level foreign official since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which shut borders across the world.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, said the Jordanian delegation shared Abbas’s position.
“Arab peace initiative, end the occupation, realizing the independence of the state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital, on the 1967 borders,” he wrote on Twitter.
Washington’s peace plan foresees the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, but disregards key Palestinian demands including a capital in east Jerusalem.
Safadi reportedly told Abbas that he must personally speak to US President Donald Trump in a bid to stop annexation.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported that Jordan has made such appeals to Abbas before, but he has refused, fearing Trump would leak the conversation and humiliate him. It was not known how he responded on Thursday.
The PA cut ties with Washington in December 2017 over the White House recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocation of its embassy there.
The Channel 13 report added that among the moves Jordan is planning should annexation move forward are recalling its ambassador from Israel, downgrading diplomatic relations, reevaluating the peace agreement, and taking legal action against Israel in international forums.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has taken his opposition to the US Congress, telling some members this week that annexation is “unacceptable and undermines chances of peace and stability in the region.”
In the online meeting, Abdullah underlined the importance of “establishing an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state,” according to a palace statement.
AFP contributed to this report.