Jordan is a major partner for Palestinians on the issue of Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday after he spoke with King Abdullah in Amman.
He spoke in advance of his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan on Thursday. Kerry will also meet separately with Abdullah.
The visit comes amid a crisis in relations between Jerusalem and Amman over Jerusalem and amid a new wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including in the nation’s capital. Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Amman for consultations. There is no date yet for his return.
Abbas and Abdullah have accused Israel of wanting to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, which is under the control of the Islamic Wakf. Only Muslims are allowed to pray there, but Jews and Christians can visit.
“Since the beginning of the events and even before that until this day, His Majesty [King Abdullah] is busy making official calls with all parties, including the Israeli side, to put an end to these procedures and end these attacks against the Islamic and Christian sanctities,” Abbas told reporters in Amman following his meeting with the king.
Abdullah spoke to Abbas of Jordan’s support for efforts to achieve peace and resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Jordanian Petra news agency reported.
The monarch also reiterated that Israel’s “repeated aggressions, provocative actions in Jerusalem and targeting of holy sites, especially the Aksa Mosque, were utterly condemnable,” according to the news agency, which said he also warned that the continuation of Israel’s settlement policy will undermine all efforts to revive the peace process.
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Abdullah considers himself to be the custodian of Muslim and Christian religious holy places, including the Temple Mount where al-Aksa Mosque is located. Israel, in its 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, recognized that King Abdullah has a special relationship to holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abbas, who holds Israel fully responsible for the current tensions and upsurge in violence because of its ongoing provocations and assaults in the al-Aksa Mosque compound, planned to complain to Kerry about Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, Palestinians sources said.
Abbas and Kerry are expected to discuss the possible revival of the peace process, as well as tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Palestinian sources said.
Abbas, the sources continued, also will make it clear that he is determined to proceed with his statehood bid at the UN Security Council. Abbas said recently he would seek a Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines this month.
In Jerusalem Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Israel Police head Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino, on Wednesday, briefed 60 ambassadors and members of the diplomatic staff on the situation on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem.
On Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu said Israel had no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount and charged the Palestinians and Hamas with lying when they stated otherwise. The prime minister spoke as part of a video address he delivered from Jerusalem to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly, which met this week in National Harbor, Maryland.
Charges against Israel with regard to the Temple Mount “are false accusations. They’re absolute fabrications. Israel is fully committed to the status quo,” Netanyahu said.
“Last week, I spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan and I reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintain the religious status quo on the Temple Mount.“I will continue to make every effort to restore calm, to restore quiet and security, so that all may enjoy the religious freedom guaranteed by Israeli law.”
But, he said, the PA, along with Hamas and radical Islamists are “fanning the flames.”
“President Abbas himself called on Palestinians to prevent Jews from entering the Temple Mount. He used the words: “by any means possible,” said Netanyahu.
“See, this — the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, where Jews have visited peacefully for years —President Abbas says we should not set foot there. That’s changing the status quo.”
Abbas also has “accused Jews of ‘contaminating’ — his word — the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu added. Fatah’s official Facebook page says the Jews did not have a Temple on the Temple Mount and that there is no Jewish connection to that site, the prime minister said. “If the issue of Palestinian statehood is brought before the UN Security Council outside the context of a peace agreement with Israel, this should be flatly rejected. If any one-sided anti-Israel resolution is brought before that council, it should be vigorously opposed,” he said.
Direct negotiations are the only way to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said. But, for that, “we must have a Palestinian partner who is committed to forging such a genuine peace — a partner who is prepared to confront terrorism and end incitement; a partner who is prepared to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people; a partner who is prepared to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns seriously.”
Netanyahu is not scheduled to meet with Kerry during his visit to the region. US State Department spokeswoman said that Kerry “speaks with Netanyahu almost every other day. He doesn’t speak with Abbas as frequently on the phone,” said Psaki said.
The meetings came together in the past few days, she said, stating that the one with Abbas made sense logistically, given that the Palestinian leader has a home in Amman.Reuters contributed to this report.
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