ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Jordan’s king vows to stick up for Palestinians on Jerusalem

Meeting Abbas, Abdullah says ensuring Palestinian rights in holy city ‘the key to achieving peace and stability in the region’

Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Royal Palace in Amman on January 29, 2018. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Royal Palace in Amman on January 29, 2018. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s king assured the Palestinians he will defend their “legitimate rights” to independence and a capital in East Jerusalem in dealings with the international community.

King Abdullah II met Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is pushing back against last month’s US recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Jordan’s royal court said after the Abbas meeting that the king “affirmed Jordan’s continued efforts in all international forums to defend the Palestinian cause.”

Abdullah also called for the international community “to safeguard the rights of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Christians in the city of Jerusalem,” which he said was “the key to achieving peace and stability in the region,” according to the official Petra news agency.

Saeb Erakat speaks to the media after a meeting between the Palestinian Authority president and the Jordanian king at the Royal Palace in Amman on January 29, 2018. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Saeb Erekat, an Abbas aide, said the two sides agreed to coordinate positions and that “great efforts are now being made to limit the damage” of the US recognition of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem forms the emotional centerpiece of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. US President Donald Trump’s comment last week that Jerusalem is now “off the table” further infuriated the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their state.

Trump said in his December 6 declaration that the US wasn’t taking a side on the city’s final borders, a position reiterated by Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Israel last week.

Jerusalem’s status is also a sensitive issue for Jordan, whose monarch serves as custodian of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City and the kingdom’s Hashemite dynasty derives much of its political legitimacy from its special role in the city. The kingdom controlled East Jerusalem and the West Bank until they were captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Jordan is also home to a large Palestinian population.

US Vice President Mike Pence, left, meets with King Abdullah II at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, Sunday, January 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

At the same time, Jordan is a staunch US ally and a major recipient of US economic and military aid.

Abdullah has stopped short of siding with Abbas, who said after Trump’s dramatic policy shift on Jerusalem that Washington can no longer serve as an honest mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.

The king received Pence last week, and has said the US remains an indispensable broker.

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