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Jordan's King Presses Israel, Palestinians to Quell Violence


Israeli President Isaac Herzog, left, shakes hands with Jordan's King Abdullah II during a diplomatic visit to Amman, Jordan, March 30, 2022.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is pressing diplomacy separately with Palestinian and Israeli leaders in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year’s Ramadan violence between Israel and Gaza. The monarch meets Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, on Wednesday, the first official visit by an Israeli head of state to Jordan. It comes as Israel deals with a fresh wave of deadly violence, including an attack in a Tel Aviv suburb Tuesday that left at least five dead.

Israel is already on high alert following a series of deadly attacks over the past week and there is concern about an outbreak of violence in the Palestinian territories.

Jordanian analyst Amer Sabaileh told VOA that King Abdullah is concerned about security and stability in the territories, particularly the West Bank, where tensions are rising as Ramadan approaches this weekend.

Sabaileh is a non-resident fellow at the Washington-based Stinson Center.

“The main challenge today for Jordan is to avoid any turmoil or kind of destabilization in the West Bank because most of the reports are talking about an escalation of violence. One of the major issues for Jordan is to contain the situation in the West Bank, to avoid any kind of falling into chaos at this stage. It requires flexible diplomacy with everybody. It comes at a moment when Jordan started to have an open relationship with the Israelis, to communicate openly with the Israeli officials. This means for Jordan a new opportunity as well to influence the internal scene in the Palestinian territories,” said Sabaileh.

April is a sensitive period when Ramadan, Passover and Easter converge. The conjunction of the religious holidays last year saw tensions sparked in Jerusalem, an 11-day war erupt between Israel and Gaza, and ethnic Israeli-Arab violence.

Security fears in Israel are mounting after three deadly attacks in which at least 11 people were killed within a week. Two attacks were carried out by Israeli Arabs inspired by Islamic State and the other by a Palestinian gunman. Concerns are rising of more attacks or an outbreak of intercommunal violence.

Police secure the site where a a gunman opened fire in Bnei Brak, Israel, March 29, 2022.
Police secure the site where a a gunman opened fire in Bnei Brak, Israel, March 29, 2022.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the country was "facing a wave of terrorism."

Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad recently called for stepped up attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Palestinian officials have repeatedly warned that the West Bank was on the verge of “exploding.”

“We’ve seen significant tension in Jerusalem, which hasn’t died down since the last line of conflict,” International Crisis Group analyst Tahani Mustafa told the Saudi Arab News newspaper. “It only makes sense for Jordan to try and intervene in some way to quell tensions,” he said.

King Abdullah and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz agreed on the need to preserve freedom of worship in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the importance of security coordination during the religious festivals. Jordan is the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites under a 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

The king and Israeli President Isaac Herzog say they are tackling the issues while seeking to deepen ties and maintain regional security.

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