WATCH

Jordan's Abdullah to Pence: East Jerusalem Must Be Capital of Palestinian State

King Abdullah expressed concern to the U.S. vice president about Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

King Abdullah II of Jordan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Amman, Jordan, Jan. 21, 2018
Raad Adayleh/AP

Jordan's King Abdullah voiced concern on Sunday over a decision by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, insisting that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In remarks during talks with U.S. Vice Mike Pence in Amman, the king said the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a two-state one. 

"The U.S. decision on Jerusalem ...does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," the monarch told Pence at the start of the talks in the royal palace.

"For us, Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians, as it is to Jews. It is key to peace in the region and key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of our root causes of radicalization," he continued. 

Pence added he and Jordan's King Abdullah 'agreed to disagree' on Trump's Jerusalem decision.

King Abdullah also told the vice president that he viewed the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a "potential major source of instability". Abdullah went on to add: "We hope that the U.S. will reach out and find the right way to move forward in these challenging circumstances," he said. 

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu praised Pence ahead of his landing in Israel, "Tonight a great friend of the State of Israel will arrive...a true friend."

Netanyahu addressed plans by Israeli opposition members to boycott Pence's speech to the Knesset, "I view it as a disgrace that members of Knesset intend to boycott this important visit," said Netanyahu.

Jordan lost East Jerusalem and the West Bank to Israel during the Arab-Israeli war in 1967.

Pence was in Amman on the second leg of a three-country tour that concludes in Israel.

In comments delivered in Egypt, he said Washington would support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians if the two sides agreed to it.
Last month's endorsement of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital by President Donald Trump drew universal condemnation from Arab leaders and widespread criticism elsewhere.

It also broke with decades of U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Pence told the king that Washington was committed to preserving the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem.

"We take no decision on boundaries and final status, those are subject to negotiation," he said.

Pence's is the highest-level visit by a U.S. official to the region since Trump made his declaration on Jerusalem last month.

Jordanian officials fear Washington's move on Jerusalem had also wrecked chances of a resumption of Arab-Israeli peace talks which the monarch had sought to revive.

King Abdullah said the U.S. move on Jerusalem would fuel radicalism and inflame Muslim and Christian tensions.

King Abdullah’s Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Amman sensitive to any changes of status of the disputed city.

"For us, Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians, as it is to Jews. It is key to peace in the region," he said.

Jordanian officials are further worried the move could trigger violence in the Palestinian territories and a spillover into Jordan, a country where many people are descendants of Palestinian refugees whose families left after the creation of Israel in 1948.

Haaretz