JERUSALEM, Israel – Jordan’s King Abdullah II made a rare visit to Ramallah on Monday to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It’s the first time in five years the king has visited the Palestinian areas.
The visit comes against the back drop of tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the last month and developments related to it. Jordan is the custodian of the Islamic holy sites here, including the Temple Mount.
Both Jordan and the Palestinians share concerns over the Temple Mount. They fear that Israel will allow Jews to pray at Judaism’s holiest site. Currently, only Muslims are allowed to pray on the Mount.
However, according the Palestinian Affairs expert Pinhas Inbari, from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, there are also differences between the king and Abbas.
Over the weekend, Abbas gave what Inbari described as “a very disturbing message to Jordan.”
“[Abbas] mentioned the role of the greatest mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini,” Inbari told CBN News.
“Haj Amin al-Husseini was a Nazi. He was allied with Hitler and he led the big Arab revolt and he instigated the [1929 Jewish] massacre in Hebron. But also, he killed Abdullah’s grandfather, King Abdullah in al-Aksa [on the Temple Mount]!” Inbari said.
“So the message is, ‘if you come close to al-Aksa, we’ll kill you!'” he added.
Despite this, Abdullah wanted to come closer to Abbas and hear what he’s really thinking – and not just saying publicly – because of their shared concern over the Temple Mount.
Ahead of his visit, King Abdullah said there wouldn’t be any breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process without a U.S. commitment to solving the Palestinian issue.
“Without the Hashemite custodianship and the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, the holy sites would have been lost many years ago,” the king told his parliament according to the Jordanian Petra News Agency.
“Our success requires one stand with the Palestinian brothers so that our cause wouldn’t be weakened and our rights would be maintained,” he added.
The recent round of trouble started on July 14 when three Israeli Arab terrorists killed two Israeli policemen with weapons they had stored on the Temple Mount. They were subsequently killed on the holy site when they took refuge there. That prompted Israel to install metal detectors and security cameras at the entrance to the Mount, sparking protests and violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Jordan.
Tensions were further exacerbated when an Israeli Embassy guard in Amman shot and killed two Jordanians after he was attacked with a screwdriver.
Jordan wanted to question the guard, but Israel said he had diplomatic immunity. The incident forced Israel to remove the security measures it had installed on the Temple Mount in order to bring the guard and embassy staff back to Jerusalem.