Netanyahu Met With Abdullah over Peace Talks, Report Claims

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan’s King Abdullah last week to discuss the peace process with the Palestinians, French news agency AFP reported Saturday, citing a diplomatic source.

Netanyahu’s trip to Amman would mark his first trip abroad since national elections on January 22.

The prime minister’s office did not comment on the reported meeting.

An unnamed diplomat told AFP that Netanyahu met with Abdullah to discuss “the Middle East peace process.”

Jordan has been a quiet player in recent Israeli contacts with the Palestinians, having helped host low-level and ultimately unproductive meetings between the sides last year.

PM’s visit to Jordan may have coincided with last week’s West Bank flare-ups; leaders last met in December to discuss Syria’s chemical weapons

Netanyahu’s visit to Jordan, if true, would have coincided or come on the heels of last week’s riots across the West Bank, set off, in part, by hunger-strikes among some Palestinian security prisoners, the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat in an Israeli prison, as well as growing bitterness surrounding the PA’s fiscal crisis.

The last meeting between the two reportedly took place in December, when Netanyahu traveled to Amman to discuss Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons and how to stop them falling into rogue hands.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been frozen since 2010, when a 10-month Israeli building moratorium in the West Bank came to an end. The Palestinians demand a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks, while Israel has called for immediate talks with no preconditions.

A trip to the region by US President Barack Obama later this month is expected by some to pump new blood into the peace process. Obama will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan during the short trip.

Violence and protests against Israel in the West Bank flared last week, inflated by the death of Jaradat, 30. The PA blamed Israel, saying Jaradat was tortured to death, and PA head Mahmoud Abbas denounced Israel for “killing children.” A team of Israeli doctors said an autopsy showed no signs of wrong-doing and that Jaradat had died of a cardiac arrest.

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