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January 21, 2018 1:27 pm

Jordan’s King Tells Pence US Must Rebuild Trust After Jerusalem Decision

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Jordanian King Abdullah II. Photo: Reuters / Kayhan Ozer / Pool.

Jordan’s King Abdullah told US Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday he looked to Washington to rebuild “trust and confidence” in moving towards a two-state solution in Israel after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

With Pence sitting across from him in the royal palace, King Abdullah said Jordan viewed the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a “potential major source of instability.”

He said he had raised his concerns for some time that such a decision on Jerusalem “does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” He also reiterated that eastern Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

“We hope that the US will reach out and find the right way to move forward in these challenging circumstances,” he said.

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Pence said in Egypt on Saturday and again in Jordan that the United States would support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians if they both agreed to it.

Trump’s endorsement in December of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital drew broad condemnation from Arab leaders and criticism around the world. It also broke with decades of US policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jordan lost eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank to Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967.

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

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

“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 said.

Jordanian officials fear Trump’s move has wrecked chances of a resumption of Arab-Israeli peace talks, which King Abdullah had sought to revive.

They also worry the move could trigger violence in the Palestinian territories which could spill over into Jordan, where many people are descendants of Palestinian refugees whose families left after Israel was created in 1948. So far, the popular protests against the move have been short-lived.

“We take no position on boundaries and final status. Those are subject to negotiation,” Pence said.

After the meeting, Pence flew to a military facility near the Syrian border to meet with US troops. He will finish his three-nation Middle East trip in Israel.

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