King Abdullah discusses 'avoiding escalation' with Abbas as Israeli settlers seize more land in Jerusalem

King Abdullah discusses 'avoiding escalation' with Abbas as Israeli settlers seize more land in Jerusalem
4 min read
West Bank
29 March, 2022
King Abdullah's talks with Palestinian leaders focused on easing tensions in Jerusalem ahead of Ramadan, Jordanian official sources reported. Tensions continue to rise as Israeli settlers seized new Palestinian property in the city over the week.
King Abdullah's visit to Ramallah is the first since 2017. [Getty]

Israel should end "all unilateral measures in Jerusalem," said Jordan's King Abdullah during his meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Monday, the Jordanian government said in a statement.

The statement noted that both leaders discussed "enhancing stability, especially during the holy month of Ramadan", and "avoiding any escalation that might undermine chances for peace."

The Jordanian king's visit to Ramallah came three weeks after he hosted Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid in Amman, where the two discussed lowering tensions in Jerusalem ahead of the Muslim holy month.

King Abdullah is expected to meet Israeli president Isaac Herzog on Wednesday. The king's meetings noticeably coincided with the summit held in the Naqab desert between the US secretary of state, the Israeli foreign minister and his counterparts of all Arab countries who have relations with Israel, except Jordan.

Earlier in March, Israeli media reported that the Israeli government has prepared special measures to avoid escalation with the Palestinians during Ramadan, which coincides this year with the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the first anniversary of the Palestinian 'May uprising', which started over Jerusalem during Ramadan, and with the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Israeli media also reported that the Jordanian ambassador to Israel had requested from the Israeli government not to allow Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa compound during the second half of the Muslim holy month, in order to avoid escalations. It was later reported that the Israeli government had rejected that request. 

Tensions in Jerusalem have been simmering since the beginning of this year, following a series of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property.

On Monday, Israeli settlers took over the "Petra Hotel" building in Jerusalem's old city. Backed by the Israeli police, the settlers then clashed with Palestinians in the area. 

A Palestinian lawyer, Madhat Dibeh, who provides legal advice to the Palestinian families affected by the seizure was also detained for several hours by the Israeli police during the incident.

Dibeh told The New Arab that "Israeli settlers with the help of the police expelled the Palestinian families who live in the building with the excuse that they had a court order."

"The order did not mention the Qarresh family, who have a 'protected tenant' status, and therefore the expulsion is illegal," he said. "I was giving this legal advice to the family, telling them to go to the court and object, but I was arrested for six hours until the expulsion took place."

The "Petra Hotel" building was part of a large property sold by the Greek-controlled Orthodox church to the Ateret Cohanim Israeli settler organization in 2004. Palestinian families who have been living in the building as renters since 1945 have been battling settlers in Israeli courts for nearly 20 years.

On Thursday, Israeli settlers seized a rooftop apartment at a Palestinian house in Jerusalem's Silwan, under the protection of Israeli police.

Last year, Israeli attempts to expel Palestinian families from Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood sparked a wave of protests that expanded across the West Bank and Palestinian towns in Israel and provoked an 11-day military confrontation between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah urged King Abdullah to help them save their homes, on the occasion of his visit to the country.