Jordan king makes rare visit to West Bank following Al-Aqsa tensions

Megiddo Prison in northern Israel

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has growing, if little discussed, economic ties with its neighbour, often plays a mediating role in the region.

Jordan was a key player in efforts to calm tensions after Israel installed metal detectors and other security measures at the Temple Mount following a July 14 terror attack there in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers using guns they had smuggled into the holy site. The measures triggered protests by Muslims.

Moreover, the PA fears that in view of the developments in the investigations, Netanyahu would be veering right and take steps that would make it hard to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement in the near future.

The rare visit is seen as a closing of ranks on the crisis over the fate of the contested shrine at the centre of recent Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Petra, the Jordanian news agency, said talks focused on "the need for preserving the historic and legal status quo in noble Jerusalem and to not hurt it because there will be negative consequences for the entire region". A few hours later, the metal detectors were dismantled. King Abdullah announced he will donate $1.4 million to the Waqf.

Abdullah has strongly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response to the incident, and said that the latter exploited the crisis at the Amman embassy for political purposes.

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Jordan's King Abdullah II (L) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his office in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on August 7, 2017.

Last week, a speech Mr Kushner gave to congressional interns was leaked to the United States tech news website Wired.

Over the past several months, Abbas, as head of the Palestinian Authority, has stepped up pressure on Hamas, cutting off salaries for civil servants in Gaza, limiting payments to Israel for electricity imports and some medicines. Over the weekend, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that the advisor to the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could not serve as a mediator between the PA and Israel because he is not sufficiently aware of events in the Middle East and "tends to adopt the Israeli position in a prominent fashion".

The visit to Ramallah by the Jordanian leader also follows the recent shooting of two Jordanian nationals by an Israeli embassy guard after being attacked. "There will be no breakthrough in the peace process if there is no American commitment to support a solution to the Palestinian issue", he said. "His Majesty said that what is desired is to intensify efforts to make progress during the coming period".

Abdullah has not visited Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority, since December 2012.

"The feeling among both Palestinians and Jordanians that Israel won't stop here and will continue its attempts to make changes in these holy sites is creating a feeling of urgency and need to co-ordinate on a higher level", he said.

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