Lapid meets King Abdullah, bids to lower tensions with Palestinians as holidays near

2nd meeting between FM and Jordan king takes place in Amman amid uptick in Jerusalem, West Bank violence, which US fears could spill over like it did last May

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman, on March 10, 2022. (Courtesy)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman, on March 10, 2022. (Courtesy)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Thursday, with the two agreeing to cooperate in an effort to lower tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as the Ramadan and Passover holidays approach.

It marked the second meeting between the two since the new Israeli government was formed last June, but the first time that the meeting was publicized by Jordan in a further sign of improved ties with Jerusalem since former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu left office.

“We agreed that we must work together to calm tensions and promote understanding, particularly in the lead-up to the month of Ramadan and Passover,” Lapid said in a statement after the meeting at the Al Husseiniya Palace.

Recent weeks have seen an uptick in violence in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including several stabbing attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli security forces, as well as several Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops, some during violent clashes.

Lapid met on Wednesday with senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh in the second such public meeting in less than two months.

The confluence of Ramadan, Passover, and Easter in April has been a point of concern for the Biden administration as well, with US and Israeli officials telling The Times of Israel last month that Washington has asked Jerusalem to take steps to lower tensions and prevent an outbreak of violence similar to what occurred last May when Israel fought an 11-day war with Hamas in Gaza.

Police fire sound grenades at Palestinians at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem Old City, on February 28, 2022. (Flash90)

Lapid in his post-meeting statement added: “Our special relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan ensures a better future for our children, and the peace between us isn’t just good neighborliness, but is also our moral responsibility to both our peoples.”

The readout from the Royal Hashemite Court reiterated Jordan’s regular talking points on the conflict, saying the king “reaffirm[ed] the need to step up efforts to achieve just and comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state, on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Abdullah also called for the preservation of the status quo at the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa Mosque compound where Jordan serves as custodian. He also called on Israel to cease “unilateral action that undermines the two-state solution,” ostensibly referring to settlement building.

Also participating in the meeting was Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi who met with Lapid privately before they stepped into the king’s office.

Abdullah has met twice with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and once with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as well.

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