Jordan's King Abdullah to Visit West Bank in Bid to Ease Tensions Before Ramadan

Mahmoud Abbas plans to use the visit to convey to the Biden administration the Palestinians' desire to initiate a diplomatic process with Israel

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jordanian King Abdullah II, right, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on the king's last visit to the West Bank in 2017.
Jordanian King Abdullah II, right, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on the king's last visit to the West Bank in 2017.Credit: HO/AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Jordanian King Abdullah II will visit Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later this month, a senior Palestinian Authority official said on Monday.

This will be the king’s first visit to Ramallah since 2017. It is expected to take place at the latest before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins at the beginning of April, the official said.

Abbas plans to use the visit to convey a message to the United States for the need to advance a diplomatic process with Israel, the official added. The two leaders will also discuss expected tensions during Ramadan in Jerusalem, particularly the likely visits to the Temple Mount by Jews during Passover, which coincides with Ramadan this year.

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The Palestinian Authority is disappointed that the Biden administration has yet to launch any kind of diplomatic initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian front, even though administration officials have reiterated their commitment to a two-state solution.

Last week, Hady Amr, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian affairs, visited both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In Ramallah, he met with Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh and Majdi Khaldi, Abbas’ diplomatic adviser. A Palestinian official briefed on the conversations said that the United States is trying to promote steps at the civil level that would help the Palestinians, but nothing beyond that.

Dialogue between Israel and the PA at the governmental level is being handled by Al-Sheikh and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the official added. Palestinian officials have also been in contact with Israeli intelligence officials and the Israeli army’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

“We also know how to send our messages to Israel directly,” he said. “The king’s arrival is mainly a form of support. He’s a significant supporting actor vis-a-vis Israel and the United States, even if at the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, the view is that the Palestinian diplomatic portfolio is on ice.”

Abdullah’s office declined to comment on the report that he is expected to visit Ramallah, saying merely that the king’s schedule hasn’t been finalized.

Abbas is currently in Germany for his annual medical checkup, but he is expected to return to Ramallah at the end of this week or early next week.

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