Jordan's king visits Ramallah ahead of Palestinian talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomes Jordan's King Abdullah to Ramallah, West Bank, on November 21, 2011.

Story highlights

  • King Abdullah makes rare visit to Ramallah
  • His visit comes ahead of an Abbas meeting with Hamas
  • Minister says king supports Palestinian unity
Jordan's King Abdullah made a rare visit to the West Bank Monday to hold talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian leader is expected to renew reconciliation talks with rival political faction Hamas later in the week.
The Jordanian monarch who has not visited the West Bank since 2000 traveled the short distance from Amman to Ramallah via helicopter and arrived to a red carpet welcome at Abbas's presidential compound.
The king's visit according to the state run Petra news agency was meant "to reiterate Jordan's support for the Palestinian National Authority and Palestinian people to establish their independent state on their national soil within 1967 borders," and it comes at a time when both leaders are making outreach efforts to the political leadership of the Islamist Hamas movement which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 after it ousted the Palestinian Authority government.
This week Abbas, who also serves as the head of the Fatah political faction, is scheduled to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo to renew efforts at political reconciliation between the rival parties.
After his meeting with Abbas Meshaal is expected to travel to Jordan. Relations between Hamas and the Jordanian government have been tense for years after the leadership of the movement was expelled from the country in 1999.
Neither King Abdullah nor Abbas spoke to the media after their short meeting but in a news conference the Jordanian and Palestinian foreign ministers stressed the importance of supporting the establishment of Palestinian political unity.
"Palestinian unity is a primary principle for the king because he always says that power is complete when there is a Palestinian unity. President Abbas talked to his royal highness about the upcoming meeting with Hamas and with Mr. Khaled Meshal and the road map that will be implemented between Fatah and Hamas in the future," Jordan's foreign minister, Nasser Juddeh, told reporters at the news conference at the presidential compound in Ramallah.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki told reporters that Abbas assured the king that the Palestinians will resume negotiations with Israel upon Israel's commitment to the Road Map and a halt of settlement construction.
Both Israel and the United States have expressed opposition to the formation of any Palestinian unity deal that includes Hamas which both countries consider a terrorist organization.
On Sunday the American Deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited with Abbas and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday to discuss ways to get peace negotiations between the two sides started again.
Palestinian officials denied media speculation Monday that Burns had exerted pressure on Abbas to drop reconciliation efforts with Hamas.
"William Burns visit was a positive visit, it had nothing to do with pressure in relationship or form although we know the Congress is putting (on) a lot of pressure, but the administration is trying to say that it is not in a punitive mood when it comes to the Palestinians despite the fact they did everything possible to prevent us from getting recognition," Hanan Ahsrawi, a member of the executive committee of the PLO told CNN during Abdullah's visit.