Jordan’s King Abdullah II meets Israeli prime minister in Amman

In a meeting with Israel’s Yair Lapid, Jordan’s King Abdullah says Palestinians should be included in United States-backed economic projects in the region.

Jordan’s king has told Israel’s visiting prime minister that Palestinians should be part of US-sponsored regional economic projects to underpin stability in the Middle East.

Jordanian officials say Amman has been pushing Israel to include the Palestinians in water-for-energy deals that both countries are considering and that Gulf Arab countries could help finance.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long weighed on their bilateral relations. Palestinian leaders seek statehood in territories occupied by Israel since a 1967 war. Peacemaking has been frozen since 2014.

King Abdullah II on Wednesday reiterated to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, in their first meeting since United States President Joe Biden’s visit to the region earlier this month, that a Palestinian state was essential to reach lasting peace.

Abdullah “stressed the need to find a political horizon to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace” with the Palestinians, according to a statement from Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court.

He also asked that Israel work to maintain calm in occupied East Jerusalem and its holy sites, including Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where tensions have simmered for years.

The Jordanian king and Lapid discussed accelerating bilateral economic projects in the water, energy and food security sectors, as well as transport, an Israeli government statement said.

Normalisation deals

Israel, which already provides Jordan with some freshwater supplies under their peace deal, has long sought to sell desalinated water as well.

But the kingdom has instead been pushing Israel to relax its grip on the flow of Jordanian exports to the occupied West Bank, a natural, adjacent market for its goods.

Jordanian officials say the shift in US policy under President Joe Biden back towards a commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has eased pressure on Jordan, a majority of whose 10 million population is Palestinian.

The outcome of Biden’s visit to the region, during which Washington pushed for further normalisation in Israeli-Arab relations to build a front against common foe Iran, was also discussed by the king and Lapid, a Jordanian official said.

The United Arab Emirates normalised ties with Israel in 2020 under a series of US-brokered deals known as the Abraham Accords.

Bahrain and Morocco followed suit, while Sudan also agreed to normalise ties with Israel.

The agreements, reached under former US President Donald Trump, broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no ties with Israel while the question of Palestinian statehood remains unsettled.

Bilateral relations between Jordan and Israel, which have long cooperated against security threats, have improved since right-wing former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost his re-election bid last year after 12 years in office.

Lapid has been serving as interim prime minister since the coalition government he helped unite collapsed last month. He hopes to defeat Netanyahu during Israel’s fifth election in under four years in November.

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