Jordan’s King Abdullah II held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah ahead of Palestinian unity negotiations between the Fatah and Hamas movements.
The discussion covered the peace process with Israel, developments in the region, and the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters. Today’s trip was Abdullah’s first to Ramallah in 11 years.
Abbas, whose Fatah faction controls the West Bank, is scheduled to meet with Khaled Mashaal, head of the Islamic Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, in Cairo on Nov. 24.
Abbas and Mashaal signed an agreement on May 4 calling for an interim government in which Fatah and Hamas share power, with elections to be held within a year. Since then, the two sides have been unable to agree on details of the governing arrangement. The Palestinian Authority split in 2007 when Hamas violently ousted Fatah forces from Gaza a year after winning parliamentary elections.
“Mashaal is also scheduled to visit Jordan in the coming weeks, and I think the king and Abbas want to hear from each other and coordinate their positions,” said Hani al-Masri, director of the Badael research center in Ramallah.
An agreement with Hamas may increase friction between the Palestinians and Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, which designate the Islamic group as a terrorist organization. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and calls for the Jewish state’s destruction in its charter.
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last year after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to renew a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction that Abbas says is a pre-condition for talks to resume.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said today in Ramallah that his country, which borders the West Bank, is the one most interested in seeing the creation of a Palestinian state there. Abdullah’s visit was meant to show support for the Palestinian Authority, and also intended as a rejection of those who advocate the alternative of Jordan as a Palestinian state, he said.