Israeli President, Top Jordanian Official Meet in London Amid 'All-time Low' in Relations

Rivlin discussed a joint tourism project with royal adviser, in increasingly rare opportunity for dialogue between the two countries

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Jordanian soldiers stand guard near the border with Israel, at Baqura, east of the Jordan River, on November 13, 2019
Jordanian soldiers stand guard near the border with Israel, at Baqura, east of the Jordan River, on November 13, 2019Credit: AFP

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with a delegation of Jordanian officials in London this week, including one of the King's most senior advisors and personal envoy, just days after King Abdullah cemented a diplomatic chill between the two countries by saying relations were at "an all-time low."

This is a rare meeting between two high-level officials as the two neighbors face a growing diplomatic crisis, weeks after the 25-year anniversary of their peace agreement was notably marked by a lack of celebrations

Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed, chief advisor to King Abdullah II for Religious and Cultural Affairs, met with Rivlin during a working visit by the Israeli statesman's to the British capital. 

"A number of issues were discussed" during the meeting, an official statement from the president's office said. Topping the list was the Land of the Monasteries, a joint tourism project based around Christian pilgrimage sites along the Jordan river.

Israeli soldiers watch over Christian pilgrims in the Land of Monasteries, on the border with Jordan, January 14, 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

"Promoting and developing the site would be a significant element in building bridges between peoples and religions," the official statement said. "The two sides look forward to continued dialogue on the issue."

Bridges and dialogue had all but disappeared from the Jordan-Israel conversation recently, with a string of events contributing to what King Abdullah II himself said was a low point in relations

Earlier this month, Jordan refused to renew a lease granted to Israelis on farming land in the Naharayim enclave which was signed on the sidelines of the 1994 bilateral peace agreement

The symbolic act followed the detention by Israel of two Jordanian citizens in the West Bank. One of them, Heba Labadi, was held for close to six weeks, and let go only after going on hunger strike for three weeks. Their detention had pushed Jordan to recall its ambassador for "consultations."

Both Jordanian and Israeli top officials have called for the relationship to improve. Netanyahu called it "a cornerstone of regional stability" in an official statement following the release of the prisoners. King Abdullah II told an audience in New York earlier this month that "it is very important for all of us to refocus our energies” on solving the problems in the two countries’ relationship, putting the blame partly on Israel's current electoral deadlock.

The two have regularly sparred over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Jordan firmly committed to a two-state solution, as well as the place in Jerusalem and Muslim holy places.