Jordan Foreign Minister meets Palestinian leader amid Israel tensions

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank yesterday, amid tensions with Israel over its annexation plans for the territory.

Safadi travelled by helicopter for the rare trip to Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas’s office told AFP.

The talks were set to focus on Israel’s plans to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank as well as the strategic Jordan Valley, moves given United States (US) blessing as part of a controversial peace initiative unveiled in January.

The Israeli government has said it could begin the annexation process from July 1, prompting Jordan to warn that it would review ties.

Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have peace agreements with Israel.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II this week raised his opposition with members of the US Congress, telling them annexation is “unacceptable and undermines chances of peace and stability in the region”.

In the online meeting, Abdullah underlined the importance of “establishing an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state”, according to a palace statement.

Washington’s peace plan foresees the eventual creation of a Palestinian state but disregards key Palestinian demands such as a capital in east Jerusalem, which is also seen as fundamental by Jordan.

Safadi’s visit to Ramallah is the first by a high-level foreign official since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which shut borders across the world.

Germany’s top diplomat travelled to Israel earlier this month without visiting the Palestinian territories, instead speaking to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh by video link from the Jordanian capital Amman.