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Jordan king in rare West Bank trip seen as message to Israel

08 Août 2017

Jordan's King Abdullah made a rare visit to the occupied West Bank on Monday, where he met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his compound in Ramallah.

The monarch's visit comes amid growing Jordanian-Israeli tensions over the Jerusalem shrine, the third holiest site of Islam and the most sacred one in Judaism.

The crisis erupted when Israel installed metal detectors at the shrine after gunmen killed two Israeli policemen there. The U.S. president also asked Israel to "hold back on settlements" until a peace deal with the Palestinians could be struck.

In a separate development, hundreds of Jordanians staged protests outside the Israeli embassy in Amman on Friday, demanding the dissolution of the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty among other demands.

Interestingly, PA (Palestinian Authority) officials are demanding the immediate reopening of the Embassy as hundreds of Jordanian passports remain in the embassy, passports that were being reviewed for entry to Israel. During the speech he adopted Israel's view that the Al Aqsa crisis stemmed from Palestinian incitement and mused that there may be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A few hours later, the metal detectors were dismantled.

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At Abbas's headquarters a large banner displayed a picture of the Al-Aqsa compound with the slogan "Jerusalem is victorious".

Abdullah's visit appears to be an act of public support for the embattled Palestinian president who has faced criticism over his handling of a crisis that engulfed occupied Jerusalem.

The king also said "without the Hashemite custodianship and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, the holy sites would have been lost many years ago", according to the official Jordanian news agency. "There will be no breakthrough in the peace process if there is no American commitment to support a solution to the Palestinian issue", he said.

"This visit sends a message from his majesty that he is willing to contribute to removing president Abbas's isolation following his decision to stop the security coordination with Israel", Samir Awad, politics professor at Birzeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank, told AFP.

Abbas praised the "efforts exerted by King Abdallah to serve the Palestinian cause; through raising and defending it in all global forums", the official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted the presidential spokesman as saying.

Jordan king in rare West Bank trip seen as message to Israel