King Abdullah of Jordan received a royal welcome yesterday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, as he arrived for a short visit to the Palestinian Authority. During his visit to the Palestinian territories, which was the first time in five years, the Jordanian monarch met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a show of political support to the Western-backed Palestinian leader, as well as to discuss recent tension with Israel over what both the Palestinians and Jordanians perceived as violations of the status quo at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound.
The Temple Mount, which is revered in Judaism as the holiest site where both biblical Temples once stood, is also revered by Sunni Muslims as the third holiest site that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque. As part of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, the Jordanians attained administrative control of the site with an Israeli pledge to only allow Muslims to worship at the antient compound, effectively revoking the rights of any Jews or Christians who seek to pray at the biblical location, while the Jewish state has maintained its responsibility of provide security on the mount. Nevertheless, when two Israeli police officers were murdered by Muslim worshipers last month whom entered the compound with concealed weapons – a terror attack that prompted additional security measures at the site, including metal detectors; the Palestinian leadership and Jordan accused Israel of assaulting the status quo, bringing about a chain of violent events that ultimately pressured Israel to remove the security measures it installed. The meeting in Ramallah by King Abdullah and President Abbas brought about an agreement between Jordan and the Palestinians to establish a coordinated mechanism with regard to developments at the Temple Mount compound, to assure that Israel will be forced to maintain the current reality and thwart what both Amman and Ramallah perceive as a Jewish attempt to assert full sovereignty over the antient site.