Lapid Meets With Jordan's King Abdullah Ahead of Ramadan Tensions

According to a statement from the Jordanian palace, Abdullah reiterated the importance of establishing a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Jordanian King Abdullah II on Thursday, in Amman, Jordan.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Jordanian King Abdullah II on Thursday, in Amman, Jordan.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with Jordan's King Abdullah II on Thursday ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, as tensions in Jerusalem rise.

"We decided that we must act together to quell tensions and promote understanding, mainly ahead of the month of Ramadan and Passover holiday," a statement from Lapid said.

According to a statement from the Jordanian palace, Abdullah reiterated the importance of reaching peace via a two-state solution and establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital along the 1967 borders.

The statement added that the king stressed to Lapid that the status quo must be preserved in Jerusalem, and that all sides must end unilateral moves that harm the two-state solution.

Prior to the meeting between Lapid and Abdullah, the statement said, the Israeli minister met with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi, with whom he also discussed policies that would pave a way to returning the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table.

Ramadan is expected to begin on April 2 and end May 2, and police are already preparing for the Muslim holy month, during which observant Muslims fast during daytime hours. Many Muslims gather at the plaza in front of Jerusalem's Damascus Gate during the holiday, with tens of thousands of people passing through the site every evening.

Last April, police put up the barricades to prevent young people from sitting at the gate after the nightly meal which breaks the daytime fast. The barriers prompted clashes between Palestinians and the police on a nearly nightly basis until the police decided to remove them a few days later. Those clashes were followed by the firing of rockets from Gaza at Jerusalem, which precipitated May's military conflict with Hamas and tensions in Israeli cities with mixed Jewish and Arab populations.

Meanwhile, pressure has been building in Jerusalem ahead of the planned eviction of the Salem family from their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which authorities say is expected to occur anywhere between March 1 and April 1. Police are likely to seek an earlier or later eviction, to avoid it coinciding with Ramadan.

However, due to the proximity of Ramadan to Passover and the recent events in Sheikh Jarrah, police estimate that there will be clashes in Jerusalem as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip this year.

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