Jordan's King Abdullah Warned U.S.: Moving Embassy Could Strengthen Mideast Terror Groups

During a work visit to Washington, King Abdullah II said moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce greets Jordan's King Abdullah and Queen Rania before their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 29, 2017.
YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS

WASHINGTON – Jordan's King Abdullah II warned senior officials in the Trump administration and members of Congress that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would cause damage to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and strengthen terror organizations in the Middle East. 

To really understand the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

King Abdullah made the remarks during a working visit to the United States this week, which took place while U.S. President Donald Trump considered whether or not to sign a presidential waiver delaying the embassy move for six months.

In meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the King said that "moving the embassy at this stage would have implications on the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim scene, and would threaten the two-state solution." He added that the embassy move could also be "exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation in order to spread their ideologies."

King Abdullah added that he does not object to the embassy move if it took place as part of a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, based on a two-state solution in which East Jerusalem would become the Palestinian capital. He said, however, that relocating the embassy under the current conditions would be harmful, and that the U.S. should "give a chance" to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Since arriving in Washington this week, King Abdullah has met with Vice President Mike Pence, as well as with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster; President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. 

During his visit, King Abdullah also warned U.S. officials that a lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue could fuel extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. A White House official told Haaretz that the king’s discussions with Kushner and Greenblatt focused on the peace process, while the meeting with McMaster touched on “regional issues of concern.”

Abdullah is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Jordan on Sunday. Mattis is scheduled to embark on a work visit to the Middle East on Friday. Before arriving in Jordan, Mattis will land in Egypt on Saturday, where he will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

On Thursday, it emerged that Trump is expected to sign the presidential waiver delaying the embassy move, breaking his campaign promise on the matter for the second time since entering the White House. Meanwhile, however, senior administration official said that Trump is likely to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech on Wednesday. The White House has remained officially mum on the subject.