PA President Abbas meets King Abdullah in Amman as West Bank tensions rise

Sudden visit follows protests over death of Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat while in custody; Hamas chief Haniyeh meets with Islamic Jihad leader Nakhaleh

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 (WAFA)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman on Wednesday, a surprise visit coming as tensions in the West Bank have risen in recent days.

The two leaders discussed “recent political developments,” Abbas’s office said in a statement on the meeting, attended by numerous senior Palestinian and Jordanian officials. The Palestinian and Jordanian foreign ministers joined the two leaders, as did the two sides’ intelligence chiefs.

Abdullah, for his part, stressed “the importance of turning the Gaza ceasefire [between Israel and Hamas] into a long-term truce.”

The meeting came “to confirm our continuing coordination to serve the interests of our nation, and at the forefront, the Palestinian cause,” tweeted senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh.

Abbas’s visit, which was not announced until the Palestinian leader had reached Amman on Wednesday morning, comes against the backdrop of rising tensions in the West Bank following the death of an activist in Palestinian Authority custody.

Nizar Banat, a prominent PA critic, died after PA security forces raided his home and arrested him early last Thursday morning. Banat’s family says they witnessed him being “viciously beaten” by security forces.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman on June 30, 2021. (WAFA)

Banat’s death sparked rare large protests in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Hebron. PA security forces have cracked down on the protests, arresting demonstrators; Palestinian rights groups have accused officers of deliberately targeting journalists.

Demonstrators have called for renewed rallies calling for an end to Abbas’s 16-year rule as PA president on Saturday.

A spokesperson for Abbas’s office did not respond to a request for comment as to the timing of the sudden visit.

Separately, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh met Islamic Jihad faction head Ziyad al-Nakhaleh in Beirut during a diplomatic visit by Haniyeh to Lebanon. Like Hamas, Islamic Jihad fired numerous rockets at Israeli cities during the recent 11-day escalation between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups.

The two discussed ways to build on their “victory” in the recent escalation, Haniyeh’s office said.

Haniyeh has been on a diplomatic blitz in recent days, making stops in Morocco, Mauritania and Lebanon to meet with Hamas-friendly politicians. On Tuesday, the Hamas chief met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

“Nasrallah and Haniyeh affirmed the depth of the relationship between Hezbollah and Hamas, and its primary position in the axis of resistance,” the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen reported.

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