The second meeting between the two leaders comes amid growing tension in Jerusalem just ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
By Erin Viner
Jordanian King Abdullah II hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for talks on coordinating strategies to secure calm in Jerusalem, a frequent flashpoint of Palestinian protests, said officials on sides.
Next month’s observance of the Muslim fast month of Ramadan will coincide with the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian celebration of Easter.
Last year, Ramadan was marred by serious clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police in Jerusalem, holy to all three faiths. The wave of violence helped stoke the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls last May, when Palestinian terror groups in Gaza fired over 4,000 missiles at Israel – starting in Jerusalem.
“We agreed that we must act together mainly towards the month of Ramadan and the Passover holiday and the concern about the security tension in Jerusalem,” said Foreign Minister Lapid following the talks.
While Israel asserts sovereignty over all of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible capital,” Jordan’s Hashemite ruling family is the Custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in east Jerusalem. The city was reunited in the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the eastern portion of the city and parts of the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and Gaza from Egypt.
There has been a recent surge of Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem.
“Our special relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan ensures a better future for our children, and the peace between us isn’t just good neighborliness, but is also our moral responsibility to both our peoples,” stressed Minister Lapid, who also serves as Israel’s Alternate Premier.
Lapid said that he and the Jordanian Monarch “agreed that we must work together to calm tension and promote understandings,” according to a statement TV7 obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which highlighted the strengthening of bilateral ties since establishment of Israel’s current government.
Jerusalem and the Hashemite Kingdom signed a peace treaty in 1994, but ties have been strained in recent years largely over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Relations were particularly tense during the conservative administration of former premier Benjamin Netanyahu, but have elevated since last year’s inauguration of the a cross-partisan coalition led by current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The statement said that Minister Lapid “commended His Majesty on the strengthening of relations and cooperation” during discussion on the “strategic importance of Jordan-Israel relations,” as well as “regional and international diplomatic issues, and the advancement of the circles of normalization and peace,” and expressed Israel’s “hope that joint projects of renewable energy and trade will bear fruit.”
Abdullah told Lapid that Israel’s “unilateral steps” in the holy city – from accelerated Jewish settlement building to its attempts to change the legal status quo of the city – undermined a Two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said a statement released from the royal palace, adding that the Jordanian King pushed for a resumption of stalled peace talks to resolve the decades old conflict with the goal of setting up an independent Palestinian state that co-exists alongside Israel.