AMMAN, Jordan – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise trip to Jordan on Tuesday, January 24, for talks with King Abdullah, whom the royal court said underlined the need for Israel to respect the status quo of the Al Aqsa mosque.
Far-right Israeli national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir toured the Al Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews revere as the Temple Mount, under heavy security this month. The visit angered the Palestinians and caused an outcry among Arab states.
The compound is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, and Judaism’s most sacred site.
Abdullah told Netanyahu, who took office last month, that Israel should respect the “historic and legal status quo in the Holy Aqsa mosque and not violate it,” the royal court said.
The monarch was quoted as telling Netanyahu that an end to violence was crucial to allow long-stalled peace talks to resume between the Palestinians and Israel.
Netanyahu’s office said the two leaders discussed regional issues, especially strategic, security and economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan.
Jerusalem is a particularly sensitive issue for Jordan’s Hashemite royal family as it is the custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in the eastern part of the city.
The return of Netanyahu to power has deepened Jordan’s concerns that ultra-right policies, which include accelerated Jewish settlement building in Palestinian territories in the West Bank, will spark a new cycle of violence.