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Jordan's King Abdullah meets Palestinian president after skipping Israel summit

During the two-hour meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah emphasised the need to 'maintain the status quo' across holy sites in order to prevent violence
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) welcomes King Abdullah II of Jordan ahead of a meeting in Ramallah (AFP)

Jordan's King Abdullah met with Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Monday, in a bid to ease tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The visit lasted about two hours and it was Abdullah's first trip since 2017. The leaders stressed the need to maintain calm and enhance stability before the anniversary of last year's tensions in Jerusalem which later triggered Israel's 11-day offensive on Gaza.

"We arrived in Ramallah today to hear what the Palestinians are demanding and to reduce the obstacles and challenges they face," Abdullah said.

According to Haaretz, Abdullah called on Israel to "freeze all unilateral measures, especially in Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, that hinder a regional settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state".

He also emphasised the need to "maintain the status quo" across holy sites in order to prevent violence.

After the meeting, in a video in Arabic released by the Jordan Royal Hashemite Court, Abbas said: "We and Jordan are one. Our interests, concerns, pain and hope are the same."

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This visit comes just a day after Abbas met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In the meeting, the Palestinian leader criticised the West's "double standards" which he said penalised Russia over its invasion of Ukraine while ignoring Israel's "crimes" against Palestinians. 

Blinken held talks with Abbas on the first full day of a trip that included a meeting with the foreign ministers of Israel and four Arab countries which have normalised relations with Israel.

Tensions erupted last Ramadan when Israel tried to expel Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers.

This prompted widespread protests across the occupied West Bank and the Palestinian community inside Israel, triggering Israel's large-scale military operation on the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2021. 

According to Axios, US officials have been working to maintain calm in Jerusalem ahead of the anniversary of the conflict where around 250 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, 29 in the occupied West Bank, and 13 people were killed in Israel.

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