While the Palestinian Authority is boycotting US diplomatic efforts and trying to limit Washington’s role in the Mideast peace process, Jordan’s King Abdullah noted the “important role of the US” in the process, during talks Tuesday in Amman with senior US officials Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.
Kushner and Greenblatt met Abdullah a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a previously unannounced meeting with the king in the Jordanian capital.
According to a White House statement, the discussions focused on “increasing cooperation between the United States and Jordan, regional issues, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and the Trump Administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
Jordan was the first stop on a five-country tour to the region that will also take Kushner and Greenblatt to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and Egypt. They are expected to arrive in Jerusalem at the end of the week.
The Palestinian Authority leadership, however, is refusing to meet them, and is demanding that the US no longer lead the Mideast diplomatic process.
The Royal Palace on the other hand, issued a statement after the meeting saying that Abdullah “noted the important role of the United States” in the peace process.
The king, the statement said, “underlined the importance of breaking the stalemate in the peace process to relaunch serious and effective Palestinian-Israeli negotiations based on the two-state solution, the Arab Peace Initiative, international law, and relevant UN resolutions.”
He also “expressed appreciation for the United States’ support to help Jordan implement several development programs, and to mitigate difficulties resulting from regional crises,” an apparent reference to various forms of assistance the US has given Jordan to deal with fallout from the civil war in Syria.
Abdullah, who strongly opposed Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there, “reaffirmed that the subject of Jerusalem must be settled as part of final status issues, as the holy city is key to achieving peace in the region.”
Before the meeting, Greenblatt wrote in a twitter post that the resumption of meetings between Netanyahu and Abdullah is “very important to both countries and to the entire region.” He said that he was “happy to see” Abdullah and Netanyahu “resuming meeting with regards to key issues.”
The Netanyahu-Abdullah meeting was the first between the two that was made public since November 2014. They are believed to have met secretly since then, however.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a short statement late Monday night after the meeting saying that Netanyahu and Abdullah discussed “regional developments and advancing the peace process, and bilateral relations.”
The Prime Minister's Office said that Netanyahu reiterated to Abdullah Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem.
The Royal Palace in Amman put out a more lengthy statement at about the same time that said Abdullah, after meeting Netanyahu for a “short visit,” stressed “the need to make progress in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the twostate solution and in accordance with international law, relevant UN resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative.”
According to the statement, Abdullah “reaffirmed that the only way to achieve peace and stability in the region is by reaching a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the...1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.”
Regarding Jerusalem, the Jordanian statement said that the city’s status must be settled as part of final status issues, “underlining the importance of the holy city for Muslims and Christians, as it is for Jews.”
This wording is in contrast to that used by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA officials who – when referring to Jerusalem – often omit any Jewish connection to the city.
Regarding the bilateral topics discussed in the Abdullah-Netanyahu meeting, the Jordanian statement mentioned the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project, and that “an agreement was reached to study lifting restrictions on exports to the West Bank, a step that would bolster commercial and investment exchange between the Jordanian and the Palestinian markets.”
Netanyahu was accompanied by Mossad director Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz, Cabinet secretary Tzachi Braverman, National Economic Council head Avi Simhon, the Prime Minister’s Military secretary Eliezer Toledano, and a representative from the National Security Council.
The Jordanian team included Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, General Intelligence Department director Maj.-Gen. Adnan Jundi, and senior advisors to Abdullah Manar Dabbas and Mohamad Al Ississ.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday night there was high speculation about a pending announcement by the US that it was quitting the UN Human Rights Council.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley were scheduled to hold a press conference at 5 p.m. in New York on the UNHRC to address speculative media reports on the matter.
The US is one of the UNHRC’s 47-members. Haley has repeatedly warned the UNHRC that it must halt its anti-Israel bias and institute reform measures.
It’s believed that the US had traded its continued presence in the council for an under-the-table agreement with the UNHRC that it would hold off on its settlement black list.
On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein announced that an update on that list would be published prior to September.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.