Jordan's King Abdullah in rare visit to Palestine

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 02:58 Written by  Read 50 times

Jordan's King Abdullah II has begun a rare visit to the occupied West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, amid shared tensions with Israel over al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the Jerusalem holy site.

 

In his first visit to Abbas's headquarters in Ramallah in five years, Abdullah was welcomed on Monday off his helicopter by the Palestinian leader before the two national anthems were played.

The two leaders were expected to cover the recent developments in the region.

The visit comes two weeks since a surge in violence in Jerusalem after Israel installed metal detectors at Muslim entrances to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The rare visit is seen as a closing of ranks on the crisis over the fate of the contested shrine at the center of recent Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

The shrine is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Measures triggered protests

The crisis erupted when Israel installed metal detectors at the shrine, after gunmen killed two Israeli policemen there.

The gunmen were Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The restrictive measures triggered Muslim protests, and Israel eventually removed the devices.

Abdullah's role as Muslim custodian of the shrine is a key component of his legitimacy.

Abbas suspended security ties with Israel over the crisis.

Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from West Jerusalem said: "This meeting is about better coordination. This is about discussing the very tense last couple of weeks [in Jerusalem]. And it is a message to the world showing solidarity." 

In a separate incident last month, an Israeli security guard killed a Jordanian teenager who he accused of attacking him.

In the same moment, he also killed a bystander in Israel's Amman mission compound.

King Abdullah harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for warmly welcoming the security guard back to Israel.

Israeli police say an investigation into the deaths is being conducted.

 

"The Israeli prime minister has to adhere to his responsibilities and take the legal measures that guarantee the killer's trial instead of dealing with this crime in a political, showy manner aimed at making personal political gains," Abdullah said last month.