Jordan's Abdullah to make rare visit to Ramallah today
The rare visit comes as PA and Hamas prepare to meet later this week to discuss forming a unity government; King Abdallah not expected to meet with Netanyahu.
Jordan's King Abdullah II will arrive Monday for an unusual, brief visit to Ramallah. The king will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - ahead of Abbas' scheduled meeting with Hamas' political leader on the possibility of the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.
Senior Israeli officials estimate that the Hashemite monarch's visit coincides with Abbas' scheduled meeting this week with the head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshal.
This is an extremely unusual visit. The Jordanian king has not visited the West Bank in more than five years. In May 2007, the king canceled a planned trip to Ramallah at the last minute. At this stage, it appears that King Abdullah will visit only Ramallah, and that he has no plans to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
Top officials in Jerusalem think the king is making this sudden trip with an intention of conveying messages to Abbas on Fatah's unity government with Hamas, and also on threats Abbas has issued about his own resignation and about dismantling the PA.
The Jordanians are extremely worried about the potential collapse of Abbas' rule in the West Bank and the possible ascent of Hamas there. Last week, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was sent to the Jordanian kingdom in response to reports that some cabinet members are considering upholding the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Jordan. Following discussions held in the Foreign Ministry, and the recommendations of Israel's embassy in Jordan, Lieberman decided to speak in support of Jordan at a session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
"Jordan is a stabilizing element in the region, compared to what is happening in other states," declared Lieberman. "The talk about Jordan as the Palestinian state is at variance with Israeli interests, and with reality. The idea that Jordan is Palestinian violates international understanding, and the peace agreement that Israel has signed with Jordan." King Abdullah's visit comes after a meeting yesterday between Abbas and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Burns was sent with a message from U.S. President Barack Obama to Abbas regarding the prospect of a Palestinian unity government. Burns stressed that the U.S. will work with such a government only if it accepts conditions set by the Quartet - recognition of Israel, honoring of agreements and denunciation of terror. Abbas responded by saying that, for him, attaining internal Palestinian reconciliation is the supreme priority.