Jordan’s King Abdullah flew to the West Bank by helicopter to become the first international leader to visit the territory since the United Nations General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member state.
Abdullah met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after being greeted by a color guard and military band when he landed today in the courtyard of the government headquarters in Ramallah, known as the Muqata.
The king wanted to be “the first one to visit Ramallah to congratulate President Abbas and the Palestinian people for the strategic decision at the United Nations,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said at a news conference. He criticized Israeli plans to build homes in the E-1 area between Jerusalem and the West Bank, which has sparked wide international condemnation, and called for the renewal of peace negotiations.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Abbas failed to win acceptance as a full member of the UN last year because of opposition from the U.S., which has veto power in the Security Council. The General Assembly voted Nov. 30 to upgrade Palestine’s observer status by a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions.