Jordan’s king snubs Netanyahu over Jerusalem violence

US diplomats urge Abdullah to help resolve tensions at Temple Mount holy site, but Amman refuses

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Jordan in January 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90/ File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Jordan in January 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90/ File)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is refusing to meet with, or even speak to, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the current upsurge in tension relating to the Temple Mount, Arab sources told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

According to the sources, American diplomats have been urging the king to help calm tensions via direct communication with Netanyahu. But the king has thus far not been prepared to host or even speak by phone with the prime minister, the sources said, because he believes Netanyahu would portray such interaction as proof of “business as usual” in Israeli-Jordanian ties.

Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office had no immediate comment.

Abdullah last week warned that bilateral ties would be affected by any further Israeli provocations at the site. Israeli officials then responded anonymously by declaring that Jordan was partly to blame for recent violence, since the Jordanian-appointed Waqf, which administers the mount’s Muslim holy sites, has allowed Palestinian youths to stockpile weaponry inside Al-Aqsa mosque.

The Rai Al-Youm newspaper, edited by the anti-Israeli journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, reported on Thursday that Abdullah has rebuffed several efforts by Netanyahu to speak with him. The newspaper said that Jordan has changed its response to upsurges in tension: on the one hand, it has not hurried to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv; on the other hand, the king is not talking to Netanyahu.

In previous rounds of tension, contacts between Netanyahu and the king yielded promises by Israel to avoid provocative steps, such as visits by politicians to the Temple Mount. Last Sunday, however, Jewish Home’s agriculture minister, Uri Ariel, visited the mount.

Bilateral tensions notwithstanding, security relations between Israel and Jordan are being maintained for now. Jordan is understood to be providing Israel with intelligence assistance in various fields, including regarding the presence of Islamic State-affiliated groups close to the border with Syria.

Most Popular
read more: