Jordanian royal court says rare meeting between the two leaders dealt primarily with the status of the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
Jordan’s King Abdullah has held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the latter’s surprise visit to Amman — his first since taking power at the helm of Israel’s most right-wing and religiously conservative government in history.
Jordan’s official statement on Tuesday said that the rare meeting between the leaders, who have long had a rocky relationship, dealt primarily with the status of the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
The sacred Al Aqsa Mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam — sits on a sprawling plateau also home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock.
Jordan’s royal court said the king urged Israel to respect the status quo at the sacred compound, which allows Jews to visit during certain hours and bars them from praying openly there.
The government also said King Abdullah II pushed Israel to “stop its acts of violence” that undermine hopes for an eventual peaceful settlement to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel’s new coalition has vowed to expand illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and even annex the territory, making a future independent Palestinian state unviable.
Netanyahu’s office said he discussed vaguely defined “regional issues” and security and economic co-operation with Jordan.
Jordan’s 1994 treaty normalising ties with Israel produced a chilly-at-best peace between the former enemies.
Tensions have simmered between the neighbours over Israel’s new ultranationalist government, which took office late last year.
Earlier this month, a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, in a move Palestinian officials called “unprecedented provocation”.
The compound is administered by Jordanian religious authorities as part of an unofficial agreement after Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel is in charge of security at the site.
Already, the Jordanian government has summoned the Israeli ambassador twice since the new government took office — both times after an incident at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound.
Jordan also protested to Israel after Israeli police briefly blocked the Jordanian ambassador from entering the Al Aqsa Mosque, decrying the move as an affront to Jordan’s role as custodian.
Because of Jordan’s special role and the site’s importance to Muslims around the world, whatever happens at the site has regional implications.