Jordan's King Abdullah condemns acts of terrorism in Israel

Prior to joining their respective delegations for a joint discussion, the king and President Isaac Herzog met privately.

 Jordan's King Abdullah shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, March 28, 2022. (photo credit: PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE (PPO)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Jordan's King Abdullah shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, March 28, 2022.

Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis must work together to prevent an outbreak of violence next month, King Abdullah II of Jordan told President Isaac Herzog during a historic visit to Amman on Wednesday.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Jordanian King Abdullah II in Jordan, March 30, 2022 (credit: Omer Miron)

“I know that we will be working very closely together, all three of us,” the Hashemite monarch told the Israeli president, as they sat over a small meal to discuss ways to ensure that the overlapping festivals of Passover, Ramadan and Easter do not, as they did last year, spark another Gaza war.

At issue are tensions around the Temple Mount, where Jordan has a special custodial relationship. Abdullah told Herzog that it was important for everyone to “avoid measures that could hinder Muslim worship” there, and that nothing be done to harm the “legal and historical status quo of Jerusalem and [its] holy sites. You and I are going to work as hard as we can with all our colleagues to maintain calm, and make sure we do not move into any unilateral measures that undermine the process of peace.”

The meeting between the two heads of state marked the first time that an Israeli president has made a public, formal visit to speak with a Hashemite monarch since the two countries made peace in 1994.

Jordan has a large Palestinian population, and violence in Jerusalem threatens to destabilize both governments. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Abdullah in Amman, and on Monday, the monarch traveled to Ramallah to speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Gantz and Abbas meetings with Abdullah, however, did not prevent the terrorist attack on Tuesday in Bnei Brak, in which a Palestinian gunman killed three Israelis and two Ukrainians.

“We completely and utterly condemn any kind of violence as we witness so many tragic attacks on civilians on both sides, and especially what happened last night,” the monarch said.

Herzog’s visit came while the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has been frozen for eight years. Israel, in the meantime, has pushed ahead with normalizing ties with its neighbors.

On Monday, Israel held a summit in the Negev with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Arab foreign ministers from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

Abdullah spoke with Herzog about the importance of including the Palestinians in this regional peace effort.

“We have so many opportunities to be able to gain as we look at the new [regional] map of 2022,” said Abdullah, but “we cannot have this as an exclusive process. It has to be an inclusive process for all of us.”

A new future for the Middle East has to include “our friends the Palestinians,” the king said. “We believe that the [Palestinian-Israeli] conflict has dragged on for far too long. The violence it has produced continues to cause too much agony and provides unfortunately fertile ground to extremism on all sides. Our mission is to work to achieve peace so that Palestinians and Israelis do not continue to pay the price so that the whole region can realize its potential and move away from the darkness and toward the light.”

Herzog was greeted by an honor guard against a backdrop of Israeli and Jordanian flags upon his arrival at Al Husseini Palace in Amman.

Prior to joining their respective delegations for a joint discussion, the king and Herzog met privately,

In thanking the king for the warm welcome, Herzog referred to Abdullah as “my good friend,” and said he believes that the invitation, hospitality and amity expressed the friendship between their two peoples. He then conveyed a message of goodwill and camaraderie from the people of Israel.

Referring to the spate of terrorist attacks in Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak over the preceding 10 days, Herzog spoke of 11 innocent lives that were taken by terrorists.

“We must fight together against all forms of terrorism, and join forces for the security of our two states,” he said. “This is a very sad day for Israel, as people go to funerals to accompany victims on their final journey.”

Herzog thanked the king for his condemnation of the attacks, in common with the censuring by many other world leaders including some from the region.

Preferring to focus on the positive aspects of the Israel-Jordan relationship, Herzog spoke of the common values of peace and prosperity. He also spoke of the peace agreement between the king’s father, King Hussein, and former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had forged a genuine friendship. Hussein attended Rabin’s funeral, and came with Queen Nur to the Prime Minister’s Residence to personally offer his condolences to Leah Rabin.

“Now we must move forward together, and offer an alternative to the awful scenes of yesterday,” said Herzog, who proposed people-to-people dialogue and mutual respect in conversations to illustrate that there is another way forward.

He repeated what he has said to other Muslim leaders, namely that meetings between Muslim leaders and Jewish and Israeli leaders indicate that there is indeed an alternative to the depth of hatred and bloodshed. Herzog said that advancing partnerships with dialogue toward peace and prosperity will benefit the whole region, including the Palestinians.

Herzog insisted that people of every faith should be able to practice their beliefs in safety and security, and that the governments of both countries are working toward that goal.

Before departing to return to Israel, Herzog wished the king, his family and the people of Jordan the traditional greeting of “Ramadan Kareem.”