Netanyahu holds rare meet with Jordan king ahead of US peace push
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Netanyahu holds rare meet with Jordan king ahead of US peace push

After months of strained ties, prime minister makes surprise trip to Amman to discuss peace process and Jerusalem holy sites

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)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman Monday, ahead of an expected visit by top White House officials seeking to lay the groundwork for the release of an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The trip to Amman by Netanyahu was only disclosed by the Prime Minister’s Office after he returned to Israel Monday evening. It was their first publicly confirmed such meeting in four years.

“The king and the prime minister discussed regional developments and advancing the peace process and bilateral relations. Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Attending the Monday meeting was Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu’s military attache Eliezer Toledano, his Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz, a representative from the National Security Council and the prime minister’s top economic adviser Prof. Avi Simhon.

The rare meeting came after months of strained ties between Jerusalem and Amman over the killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli embassy guard.

The two leaders last spoke in July 2017 as Netanyahu sought Abdullah’s help in calming protests over metal detectors placed on the Temple Mount.

The meeting came days before White House special adviser Jared Kushner and US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt are due to arrive in the region for peace talks.

Kushner and Greenblatt are set to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, ahead of the expected unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s plan to broker Mideast peace.

Although Kushner and Greenblatt are set to meet with regional leaders to iron out details of the Trump peace plan, they are not scheduled to hold talks with the Palestinians, who have refused to meet with US officials ever since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, and then moved the US Embassy to the city last month.

An aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday condemned the US peace push and a reported plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from Gulf donors to rehab the Gaza Strip.

In a statement, Nabil Abu Rudeineh warned Mideast countries “against cooperating with a move whose goal is to perpetuate the separation between Gaza and the West Bank and lead to concessions on Jerusalem and the holy sites.”

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