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February 28, 2021 12:39 pm

Israeli Defense Minister Reportedly Held Secret Meeting With Jordanian King

avatar by i24 News

Benny Gantz, head of the centrist Blue and White party, speaks during a swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020. Photo: Adina Valman / Knesset Spokesperson’s Office / Handout via Reuters.

i24 News – Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz secretly met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II for security talks in Jordanian territory, Hebrew media outlet Yediot Anronot reported on Sunday.

The two reportedly held a meeting in Amman, the Jordanian capital, but Yediot did not provide a specific date other than to say that the talks were held in December 2020.

Gantz, who also heads the Blue and White party, hinted at a recent meeting in Jordan in a Zoom call with political activists last week while taking a swipe at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship with the kingdom.

“I think Jordan is a great asset to Israel, and I think that our relationship with Jordan could be 1,000 times better. Unfortunately, Netanyahu is an unwanted figure in Jordan, and his presence harms” relations between the countries, Gantz said.

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“I have a continuous and ongoing connection with the Jordanian king and other senior Jordanian officials, and I know we can have great achievements,” he said.

“I believe that it’s possible to do one or two civilian projects each year with Jordan, and within 10 years up to 20 or 30 projects” with the aim of strengthening ties between the two countries, he added.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has also met twice in recent months with his Jordanian counterpart.

Having signed a peace deal in 1994 normalizing all relations, ties between Israel and Jordan became noticeably strained over the last year when Netanyahu vowed to annex parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley in the leadup to the March 2020 elections.

King Abdullah II of Jordan warned that Israel will set off on a course to a “massive conflict” with the Hashemite kingdom if it goes ahead with the plans to apply sovereignty to West Bank areas under the Peace to Prosperity plan by then-President Donald Trump.

Those plans were eventually scrapped when Israel reached a historic normalization deal with the UAE and Bahrain in September 2020 with the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington.

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