Jan 24, 2023 - World

Netanyahu meets Jordan's king and commits to status quo in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Jordan's King Abdullah II , during a visit to Amman on January 16, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Jordan's King Abdullah II during a visit to Amman on Jan. 16, 2014. Photo: Handout/Jordanian royal court via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman on Tuesday and committed to maintaining the status quo in Jerusalem, according to a senior Israeli official.

Why it matters: It was Netanyahu's first foreign trip since he returned to the prime minister post a month ago. It was also the first meeting between the two leaders, whose relationship had been strained when Netanyahu was last in power, since June 2018.

The big picture: Jordan has already summoned Israel's ambassador for urgent meetings this year due to incidents at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, also known as the Haram al-Sharif or the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

  • Tensions in Jerusalem intensified two weeks ago, when Israel's ultranationalist national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited the Temple Mount, drawing widespread condemnation and concern over whether Israel would maintain the status quo at the religiously sensitive site.
  • The compound, which is considered the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest for Muslims, is administered by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf and protected by the Israeli police, per the status quo rules.

Behind the scenes: A senior Israeli official said Tuesday's meeting lasted two hours and was held in a good atmosphere. A big part of the meeting dealt with security cooperation between the countries and the situation at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

  • “I have been to many meetings between Netanyahu and the king and this one was one of their best meetings," Israeli minister for strategic affairs Ron Dermer said.
  • Ronen Bar, the head of Israel’s domestic security service Shin Bet and in charge of security in the West Bank and Jerusalem, attended the meeting, which also included the head of the Jordanian general intelligence service.

What they're saying: “King Abdullah stressed in his meeting with Netanyahu the importance of respecting the historical and legal status quo at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound," the royal court said in a statement.

  • Netanyahu told the king that the new Israeli government is committed to preserving the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, a senior Israeli official told Axios.
  • According to the royal court, the king stressed the need to maintain calm and cease all acts of violence "in order to pave the way for a political horizon for the peace process, calling for an end to any measures that could undermine peace prospects."
  • "The King reaffirmed Jordan’s steadfast support of the two-state solution, which guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security," the royal court said.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said the two leaders discussed regional issues and the strategic, security and economic cooperation between the two countries "which contributes to regional stability".

  • “Netanyahu and King Abdullah stressed the long-standing friendship and partnership between Israel and Jordan," the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said.
  • According to the royal court statement, "discussions also covered bilateral ties and the need for the Palestinian people to benefit from economic and regional projects."
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