Report: Jordan's king presses Abbas to calm Israel-Palestinian tensions

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators met in Vienna on Friday and urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to tone down their rhetoric and calm tensions.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
October 23, 2015 21:50
2 minute read.
Protesters in Amman burn an Israeli flag during a protest to express solidarity with Palestinians

Protesters in Amman burn an Israeli flag during a protest to express solidarity with Palestinians. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Jordan's King Abdullah is intensely lobbying Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to exert his influence in order to lower the scale of violence in the West Bank, Channel 10 quoted Jordanian sources as saying on Friday.

The monarch is reportedly concerned that an escalation in Israel-Palestinian strife would have a spillover effect in the Hashemite kingdom.

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A majority of Jordan's subjects are of Palestinian origin, which makes Amman acutely sensitive to what takes place west of the Jordan River.

Abbas is due in Amman next week to meet with Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The three men are expected to discuss ways to bring about calm on the ground.

One of Kerry's goals is to reinforce the status quo at al-Aksa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, under which non-Muslim prayer has long been banned there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has not changed the status quo and has no intention of doing so.

The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators met in Vienna on Friday and urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to tone down their rhetoric and calm tensions.

A statement after the meeting - attended by Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the UN Middle East coordinator Nickolay Mladenov - called on Israel "to work together with Jordan to uphold the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem in both word and practice."

An Israeli government source said Netanyahu told Kerry in their meeting that, to curb violence, Abbas and King Abdullah, who has a role as a custodian of the Muslim sacred sites in Jerusalem, should publicly declare the status quo had not changed.

A spokesman for Netanyahu would not confirm the prime minister had made such a demand.

Palestinians are also fuming at what they see as excessive use of force by Israeli police and soldiers, with many attackers shot dead at the scene when they might have been detained.

One Israeli was killed by soldiers who mistook him for an attacker, and an Eritrean migrant was beaten and shot dead by a crowd of Israelis who thought he had taken part in a shooting.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem on Friday distributed security camera footage that appeared to show Israeli soldiers kicking a Palestinian man and using a rifle to beat him while he was lying on a storage room floor, before dragging him outside.

The Israeli military said in response that the event was being examined and a preliminary inquiry showed the soldiers had acted in accordance to the army's expected standards.

B'Tselem said it occurred on Oct 6. in the West Bank, near where clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops were taking place, and that the soldiers then arrested the man. The military described the clashes as a "violent riot."

Reuters contributed to this report.


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