Sunday, 26 Sep 2021 - 20 of Tishri, 5782

Israeli president Isaac Herzog has met secretly with King Abdullah II of Jordan

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog has revealed that last week he visited the King Abdullah II of Jordan at the King’s palace.

The meeting was held at the King’s invitation, the President’s office described it as a warm meeting, where “they discussed deep strategic issues, at both the bilateral and regional levels.”

After the meeting, President Herzog said: “Jordan is a very important country. I have immense respect for King Abdullah, a great leader and a highly significant regional actor… In our meeting, among the things we discussed were the core issues in the dialogue between our states, including an agreement to import agricultural produce during the shemitah (agricultural sabbatical) year, energy issues, sustainability, and solutions to the climate crisis that we can advance together.

Herzog added: “there is a sense in the region of a desire to make progress, a desire to speak. We are currently marking one year since the signing of the Abraham Accords. These accords created an important regional infrastructure. They are highly important agreements, which are transforming our region and the dialogue within it.”

Herzog’s meeting with King Abdullah was the latest in a series of recent high-level meetings between Israeli and Jordanian officials.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, on July 8 at the King Hussein Bridge. Following the meeting, they announced new agreements on water and trade.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had met secretly with Abdullah in Amman the week before. It was the first meeting between a sitting Israeli premier and the Jordanian monarch in more than five years.

According to Israeli media reports, the two leaders agreed to open a “new page” in relations between their respective countries.

President Herzog also spoke Sunday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who called to congratulate him personally on entering office and to extend his wishes to the Israeli people for the Jewish New Year and the Jewish holidays.

According to Herzog’s office, “the two leaders also discussed bilateral issues and shared Egyptian-Israeli interests. President Herzog thanked the Egyptian President for the important role that he plays in the pursuit of regional stability and peace.”

Relations with Egypt under Sisi were already on a positive trajectory under the Netanyahu government. Egypt has continued to play a vital role mediating between Israel and Hamas to advance a long term truce agreement.

Recently Israel agreed to several measures to ease conditions for Gaza residents including: an increase of work permits inside Israel, expanding the fishing zone, increasing their water supply and agreeing to a mechanism to allow Qatari aid money into the Gaza Strip. The new mechanism empowers the Palestinian Authority and is supported by Egypt and Jordan, but Hamas in angry over their loss of control over the funds.

In further indication of coordination, last week Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. They reiterated their shared support for a two-state solution and the importance of calming tensions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Hamas officials have described those decisions as insufficient and are threatening a resumption of violence.

Prime Minister Bennett is expected to soon visit Cairo and meet with President Sisi.

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