Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday held talks with King Abdullah in Jordan. The visit comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries over a Jerusalem site holy to both Muslims and Jews over which Jordan has custodianship in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
- Background: Tensions have been high over the flashpoint complex known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews. It contains the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and the site of the destroyed first and second Jewish Temples, the holiest site to Jews. Only Muslims are allowed to pray at the complex under a decades-old agreement. However, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Ben Gvir, who in a controversial move visited the site two weeks ago, believes that Jews should have the right to pray there too. King Abdullah told CNN in December that Jordan is willing to work with “anybody and everybody” in Israel to bring peace, but won’t allow “red lines” over Jerusalem to be crossed, referring to al-Aqsa mosque.
- Why it matters: This is Netanyahu’s first trip abroad since reassuming Israel’s premiership last month, and his first visit to Amman and meeting with Abdullah since June 2018. It comes just two weeks after Ben Gvir’s visit to the site, which drew widespread international condemnation, including from Jordan’s Royal Court. After the visit, Abdullah stressed the need for Israel to respect “the historical and legal status quo” of the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Palestinians immediately objected to the visit.