Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II met in Ramallah during a rare visit by the Jordanian monarch on Monday afternoon, against the backdrop of rising tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
In video released by the Jordanian Royal Court, Abbas could be seen telling Abdullah that “we and Jordan are one.”
“Our interests, concerns, pain and hope are the same,” Abbas said.
The Jordanian king was making his first visit to the area in nearly five years. He arrived in the aftermath of a terror attack that claimed the lives of two Israeli police officers, with the potentially explosive Ramadan holy month right around the corner.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a historic summit in Israel’s southern Negev desert alongside foreign ministers from Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken also attended.
Although Jordanian officials were invited to the summit, Amman declined the invitation. Instead, the two meetings went forward at nearly the same time early on Monday afternoon.
In Ramallah, Abdullah told Abbas that the Jordanians are there to “listen to you and hear from you what is demanded of the Jordanians.” The monarch further described Jordan, many of whose citizens are descendants of Palestinian refugees, as “the closest” to the Palestinian cause.
He added that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides must cease “unilateral measures” that threaten peace.
“All unilateral measures, especially those in Jerusalem and the Noble Sanctuary, must stop,” Abdullah said, referring to the Temple Mount holy site, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jordan has long claimed a special custodial role in Jerusalem. A Jordanian-backed religious body, the Waqf, administers the Al-Aqsa compound. But Israel has never recognized Jordan’s self-declared custodianship of the city’s holy sites.
Israeli security officials have warned that the Muslim Ramadan holy month — which is scheduled to begin on Saturday — could inflame an already tense situation between Israel and the Palestinians.
Six Israelis have been killed in terror attacks inside Israel over the past week. Two were killed in Sunday night’s attack in Hadera; the other four were killed in an attack at a mall in Beersheba. Both attacks were apparently inspired by the extremist Islamic State organization.
Ten Palestinians were killed in violent confrontations with Israeli troops since the beginning of March. Some died in gun battles with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, others during attempted attacks, and still others under disputed circumstances.
At Monday’s summit in the Negev, the Arab foreign ministers were united in their desire to see a calm holy month in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry emphasized the need to “restrict any unilateral activity that might agitate the current situation and have an impact on the tranquility during a very sensitive and important time.”
“We are all hoping to direct our attention toward a higher cause, rather than deal with crisis management,” Shoukry said.