First Leader to Discuss Jerusalem Crisis With Trump: King Abdullah of Jordan

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U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and King Abdullah II of Jordan arrive to a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and King Abdullah II of Jordan arrive to a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump spoke on the phone Friday with Jordanian King Abdullah, and the two leaders discussed the crisis on the Temple Mount, according to a statement released by the Jordanian Royal Court.

The king was the first leader in the region to personally discuss the crisis with the U.S. president himself. In recent days, King Abdullah has emphasized the importance of returning the situation at Temple Mount to what it was before the July 14th terror attack in which two Israeli police officers were murdered. Two days ago, Abdullah spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the two agreed to work together to solve the crisis.

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The Trump administration did not put pressure on Israel to take down the security measures on Temple Mount, a spokeswoman for the State Department said on Thursday.

According to Heather Nauert, who addressed the issue during a press briefing at the department, the decision to remove the cameras and metal detectors from the Temple Mount area this week was reached independently by the Israeli government, not as a result of American pressure.

"Israel’s security is among our top priorities. We would never pressure Israel into making a security decision for political purposes," Nauert said.

On Thursday, U.S. special peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who is in Jerusalem in recent days holding talks with Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians as part of an attempt to renew the calm on the Temple Mount, said he "welcomes the efforts undertaken to de-escalate tensions in Jerusalem today."

Greenblatt comments referred to Israel's decision to return the status on the Temple Mount the state it was before the July 14 terror attack.

In a statement released Thursday night, Greenblatt added "that calm and security will create the best opportunity to return to dialogue and the pursuit of peace."

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According to the statement, Trump, Jared Kushner and the entire admiration involved in the issue "have been and will remain engaged as we continue to monitor the situation closely.

Jerusalem's mufti Mohammed Hussein announced Thursday that the situation at the Temple Mount compound has been restored to what it was prior to July 14's attack, and that prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque are to resume.

His announcement follows the overnight removal of all remaining security measures from the entrances to the Temple Mount, including infrastructure for "smart" camera technology that was to replace the metal detectors that were removed on Tuesday, in  in accordance with the demands of the site's religious authority, the Waqf.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met the mufti in Ramallah on Thursday morning and welcomed the decision, calling it a victory for Palestinians, particularly those in Jerusalem. "All stood as one, didn't blink, didn't hesitate and didn't tire," he said.

A source briefed on the de-escalation efforts, who requested to stay anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Haaretz on Wednesday that senior officials in Trump's administration demanded Abbas stop incitement regarding the Temple Mount and end calls for protests.

According to the source, the U.S. administration made it clear to the Palestinian leadership that Israel had taken a lull in the process of removing the metal detectors and cameras placed at the entrance to the Temple Mount.

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