Jordanian King Rejected Request by Netanyahu for Meeting, Report Says

Israeli official denies report by London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, which said the refusal angered Netanyahu

King Abdullah delivers a keynote address at a conference in Singapore on June 20, 2019.
REUTERS/Edgar Su

A request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with Jordan's king has been rejected, sources in Jordan reported over the weekend. A source in the prime minister's bureau denies the claim.  

London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported that King Abdullah II said he has no intention to hold any meetings or conversations at this time, and that the rebuff irritated Netanyahu.

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The report cited unofficial Jordanian sources as saying that the king expressed his reservations over U.S. President Donald Trump's initiative to convene a conference at Camp David with Arab leaders to promote his Middle East peace plan. According to the report, Abdullah said he has no intention to hold a meeting for the sake of a photo opportunity, as in the Bahrain conference in June. The report added that the king has not ruled out the possibility of talks with Trump or his staff, however.

According to the report, senior Jordanian officials believe that the purpose of Trump advisor Jared Kushner's visit to the region this week is to help Netanyahu's prospects in September's election. This assessment was bolstered in Amman by the fact that the visit was unexpected and that it appears to be another attempt to promote Trump's Middle East peace plan. In Kushner's meeting with Abdullah this week, the king reaffirmed his position that there can be no progress without implementing the two-state solution.

Al-Quds Al-Araby further said that Kushner's visit and the renewed public discourse on the peace plan frustrated the Jordanian leadership, especially King Abdullah, who reportedly declared that the peace plan has been suspended until further notice in light of opposition by Palestinians and Arab countries, in addition to Israel's decision to hold new elections. 

Furthermore, Jordanian social media was flooded over the past few days with furious reactions to Israeli tourists visiting Aaron's tomb in Jordan's Wadi Musa region, near Petra. The tourists held prayers there despite branding the visit as a tour, which was viewed in Jordan as a provocation. The event received criticism of the government on the part of Jordanians, and Jordan's Minister of Endowment and Islamic Affairs Abdel-Nasser Abul Bassal closed the shrine on Thursday, saying that no one will be allowed to visit unless they get permission from the ministry, according to a statement from the government's cabinet.

DPA contributed to this report.