Jordan Calls on Abbas to Renew Peace Talks With Israel

King Abdullah makes first visit to West Bank since 2000 to show support for Palestinians' statehood bid.

A Jordanian delegation visiting the West Bank on Monday called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to renew peace talks with Israel.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said his country backed efforts by the Quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia - to end the current stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.

Abbas and Abdullah - Reuters - Nov. 21, 2011

"We support the resumption of direct negotiations, because the goal is to guarantee the creation of an independent Palestinian state," Judeh told a news conference at Abbas' headquarters, as Jordanian King Abdullah II visited the West Bank for the first time in 11 years.

Judeh also expressed support for Palestinian efforts to form a unity government between Abbas' Fatah movement and the radical Islamist Hamas movement.

King Abdullah arrived in Ramallah on Monday for a rare visit to the West Bank, as the Palestinians pursue statehood in a region riveted by the slide towards civil war in Syria and mounting unrest in Egypt.

Abdullah, a critic of the deadlock in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, flew the short distance from his capital, Amman, by helicopter and went directly into talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

It was his first visit to the West Bank since 2000, when Abbas's predecessor the late Yasser Arafat was the undisputed Palestinian leader. Abbas, by contrast, faces a challenge from the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

"The visit comes in the context of Jordan's support for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people to achieve Palestinian national rights and an independent state," a Jordanian palace official told Reuters on Sunday.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abdullah and Abbas would also "discuss the regional situation".

Jordan shares a border with Syria, and Abdullah has called on its president Bashar Assad to end his crackdown on opponents and step down to avoid further bloodshed.

On Sunday, Abbas hosted U.S. peace envoy William Burns, who was due to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

The Obama administration has worked to block a bid by the Palestinians to sidestep Israel by applying directly for full membership of the United Nations. Washington has also censured Israel for expanding its West Bank settlements.

Jordan is one of the few Arab countries to recognize Israel, though many of its populace are Palestinians descended from those displaced during the 1948 war of the Jewish state's founding.

The Jordanian government fears further instability will lead to a new influx of Palestinians which could stretch already scant resources and raise tension with Jordanians.

קרא כתבה זו בעברית: מלך ירדן בביקור ברמאללה: לשוב למו"מ עם ישראל