Israel

Jordanian foreign minister in surprise Ramallah visit to talk annexation response with Abbas

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi arrived on Thursday for an unannounced visit to Ramallah and is set to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials.

LISTEN: How Netanyahu could fudge annexation, hoodwink Gantz and cling on to power

Hussein al-Sheikh, member of the Fatah Central Committee and close associate of President Abbas, said Safadi was in Ramallah as part of the coordination efforts between the Palestinian Authority and Jordan in their response to Israel's annexation plans.

A Palestinian source told Haaretz that Safadi came for a snap visit, as part of talks on the response to Israel’s annexation plans King Abdullah II is conducting with Arab countries, the United States and European states.

According to the source, the fact that Safadi himself came signals support for the Palestinian position. The visit is also intended to pass along messages from Arab leaders, and specifically the United Arab Emirates government, following conversations King Abdullah held with them in the past several days.

The Palestinian leadership, the source added, sees the start of an “effective pressure campaign” on Israel and the U.S. to block the proposed annexation.

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said in a tweet: "I assured King Abdullah in our phone conversation of UAE's full solidarity with Jordan & our categorical rejection of accepting Israel's illegal annexation of Palestinian lands. We are working with our Arab brethren & the international community against this illegal move."

Safadi's visit comes amid heightened tensions between the Kingdom of Jordan and Palestinian Authority with Israel in light of Prime Minister Netanyahu's promise to advance on annexation plans of the Jordan Valley and settlements in the West Bank as early as July 1. 

On Wednesday, Netanyahu presented Defense Minister Benny Gantz with a series of possible annexation scenarios, including a purely "symbolic" step, amid uncertainty regarding the exact shape and timeline of the prime minister's declared intention of annexation.

King Abdullah II of Jordan held at least five briefings with senior members of Congress from both parties, in an attempt to recruit them to the anti-annexation cause. The king “warned that any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable and undermines the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the region," said a statement by his court. 

Jordan has been the most outspoken Arab country so far in its opposition to Israel’s annexation plans. Others have also expressed opposition, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, but not as vocally and persistently as Jordan, a country where a large part of the population is of Palestinian origin, or has close family ties to Palestinians.

Last month, King Abdullah warned in an interview with a German newspaper that if Israel moves forward with annexation in July, it will face a major clash with the kingdom.

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