Jordan's King Abdullah walks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
King Abdullah’s role as the custodian of holy Muslim places in Jerusalem and as a moderate Arab leader in the region was publicly enhanced by Thursday’s Amman talks, Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Daniel Nevo told Army Radio on Friday.
It also underscored the relationship between Israel and Jordan, even though there was no forthcoming announcement that Amman would return its ambassador to Tel Aviv, after being called home for consultations in response to recent violence in Jerusalem.
The violence of the past weeks has weakened the king’s standing with regard to Jerusalem, because it leaves him open to attack by extremists elements in Jordan, Nevo said.
He spoke with Army Radio the morning after a trilateral meeting in Amman convened by King Abdullah with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After the meeting, Kerry announced that both Netanyahu and Abdullah were putting in place a mechanism to quell weeks of violence in Jerusalem, that has already spilled over into the West Bank.
Netanyahu also pledged yet again to maintain the status quo on Temple Mount, by which the Islamic Wakf controls the compound’s Muslim holy sites.
Under the arrangement, only Muslims are allowed to worship there, but Jews and Christians may visit.
About half of Jordan’s 8 million population is Palestinian, so they have a personal interest in what happens in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip, Nevo said.
Every event in Israel, particularly the violent ones, is felt in Jordan, he added.
“Israel recognizes the importance of King Abdullah as the custodian of Islam’s holy sites in Jerusalem,” Nevo said. “We have always tried to support this,” he said. “We have never renounced this [position] – on the contrary, we have supported it as much a possible.”
It is also a role that is officially set out in the 1994 peace treaty, he noted.
The visual of Netanyahu speaking directly with King Abdullah was also important, he said.
After the meeting, Kerry spoke of Jordan as an important US ally and recognized its custodial relationship with the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).
Jordan, Kerry said, has played an “historic role as the custodians of the Haram al-Sharif.” Since 1967, it has worked with Israel to administer the site, he said.
Kerry also praised Abdullah as a “courageous leader” who has played a significant role in resolving regional crises.
“I thank him for his exhaustive personal efforts in trying to resolve some of the region’s most difficult challenges, whether it’s Syria and Iraq, ISIL, or the longstanding conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Kerry said.
“Through all of these challenges, one constant has been the enormously constructive role that Jordan has played under difficult circumstances in order to try to resolve those challenges. And we’re very grateful and we admire those efforts,” Kerry said.