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Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington as Israeli-Palestinian tensions soar

The visit came days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region and urged both Israelis and Palestinians to de-escalate.
US President Joe Biden meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

President Joe Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House on Thursday for a discussion that centered on how the Hashemite Kingdom can help reduce the latest Palestinian-Israeli tensions

Their lunch meeting came as the Israeli army on Thursday said its aircraft targeted rocket and weapons sites in the Gaza Strip in response to rockets that were fired on southern Israel by Palestinian militants. The exchange came days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region and urged both sides to de-escalate. A deadly Israeli raid in the flashpoint city of Jenin late last month set off the latest round of bloodshed, including a shooting rampage outside an East Jerusalem synagogue that left seven Israelis dead.  

Abdullah’s trip to Washington comes less than two weeks after his talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Jordanian capital, Amman, which focused on the Jerusalem holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. 

Jordan, the custodian of the site, has warned Israel's new right-wing government against violating the historic status quo that bars Jewish worshipers from praying there. In what the Palestinians considered a serious provocation, hard-line Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir briefly toured the sacred site last month. 

According to a White House readout of the Biden-Abdullah meeting, the president "recognized the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s crucial role as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, citing the critical need to preserve the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount."

According to the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, Abdullah’s discussion with Biden was also expected to touch on “the ramifications of the Ukraine crisis," which has caused global energy and grain prices to spike.  

Abdullah’s visit to Washington this week is his third since Biden took office. The two leaders also met on the sidelines of a Middle East leaders summit in Jeddah last July. 

The Jordanian king, who delivered the keynote address at the 71st National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, also met with Blinken, Vice President Kamala Harris and congressional leaders, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Prior to arriving in the United States, Abdullah met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha and held talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa. 

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