Jordan’s King Abdullah met with the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah headquarters on Monday to discuss bilateral relations, as well as how to quell rising tensions in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem with the upcoming overlap of the Jewish Passover and Muslim Ramadan.
The king reportedly went to Ramallah to discuss his concerns about possible violent activities at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, sacred to both Jews and Muslims.
A Palestinian Authority source placed the responsibility for preventing violence solely on the shoulders of the Israeli government.
“If Israel wants to prevent friction, it must prevent settlers’ incursions into al-Aqsa Mosque throughout Ramadan, which coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday,” the PA official told Arab News.
“Let the Jews pray in the places designated for them, and leave al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan to perform the Muslim prayer,” added the source in Ramallah.
The seemingly intractable conflict between Israel and the PA received a lot of international media attention in the past. However, the issue has increasingly been sidelined by larger regional challenges such as the growing Iranian threat to the Sunni Arab world and Israel. The historic Negev Summit in Israel with foreign ministers of the United States, Israel, Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, is the latest manifestation of a growing Arab-Israeli regional alliance against the perceived shared Iranian nuclear and drone threat.
While Jordan also signed a formal peace agreement with Israel in 1994, bilateral ties between Amman and Jerusalem are far less cordial than Israel’s growing relations with Arab states such as Egypt, Morocco, the UAE and Bahrain. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi appeared to decline Jerusalem’s invitation to attend the Negev Summit, but was reportedly prepared to attend the top-level diplomatic summit if Israel agreed to include the presence of the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. However, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was reportedly concerned that the Palestinian issue would overshadow the larger Iranian regional issue.
Ahead of the Negev Summit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Palestinian leader in Ramallah on Sunday. Abbas reportedly told Blinken that Ramallah is committed to a two-state solution along the 1967-lines and demanded an end to the expansion of Jewish communities in the disputed West Bank.
The PA appeared to avoid criticizing the participation of four Arab foreign ministers at the summit in Israel. However, the PA’s Foreign Ministry blasted Israel for using the top-level summit as a “cover-up” for the conflict with the Palestinian Authority.
“This Israeli mobilization aims to cover up its actions of deepening settlement expansion and creeping annexation, Judaizing Jerusalem and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state,” stated the Foreign Ministry in Ramallah.
Abbas also criticized the West’s harsh sanctions against Russia as a “flagrant double standard” and accused the Jewish state of “ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination.” The PLO has historically had strong ties with Moscow and Abbas reportedly worked as a KGB agent during the Cold War.
With Ramadan just around the corner, radicalized Muslims have already perpetrated two terrorist attacks inside the Jewish state. Yesterday, two Arab-Israeli citizens affiliated with ISIS murdered two Israeli police officers in the city Hadera north of Tel Aviv. Last week, a radicalized Israeli Bedouin, affiliated with ISIS, murdered four Israeli civilians in the southern city of Beersheva.