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JERUSALEM – The arrival in Washington of King Abdullah II of Jordan, accompanied by his very prominent wife, Queen Rania, on Monday highlighted the Hashemite Kingdom’s uncomfortable position in the Middle East as the country’s leaders try to walk the line between maintain close ties with the United States and take a tough stance toward Israel and its war in Gaza to placate its large Palestinian population.

After their meeting, Biden thanked Jordan for its help in providing humanitarian aid to Gaza and recognized the Arab nation as an important ally of the United States: “We are grateful to our partners and allies, like the king, who work with us every day to promote security. “Stability throughout the region and beyond. “It is difficult times like these when the ties between nations are more important than ever.”

In his remarks, Abdullah called for an end to the war: “We cannot stand by and allow this to continue. We need a lasting ceasefire now. This war must end. We must work urgently and immediately to ensure the sustainable delivery of sufficient aid to Gaza through all possible entry points and mechanisms. And I thank you, Mr. President, for your support in this.”

Abdullah’s visit to the White House on Monday was the first by an Arab leader to the United States since the brutal Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, which sparked a full-scale war in the Gaza Strip and raised tensions. throughout the Middle East, including Jordan.

While Jordan, unlike Qatar and Egypt, has not taken a direct role in mediation between Israel and Hamas, the king is likely to pressure Biden to seek to end the four-month conflict and secure a role in the efforts. post-war effort to rebuild Gaza. .



President Biden speaks as King Abdullah II of Jordan listens at the White House on February 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Dr. Saud Al-Sharafat, a former brigadier general in Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate, told Fox News Digital that both Israelis and Americans have long been aware of the king’s dilemma and, despite the tensions , “relations between the three parties continue even in the most difficult circumstances, such as the one we face today.”

Al-Sharafat, founder and director of the Shorufat Center for Globalization and Terrorism Studies based in Jordan’s capital, Amman, said he believes the goal of Abdullah’s visit was to obtain American assurances that Jordan will remain the custodian of the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem. a position he has maintained since Israel took Jerusalem after the 1967 Six-Day War, and to obtain guarantees that Palestinian refugees from Gaza would not be sent to Jordan or the West Bank.

Peace between Israel and Jordan

The flags of the United States, Israel and Jordan are displayed during the signing ceremony of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994. (Diana Walker/Getty Images)

He also said Jordan is vying for a role in Gaza’s postwar reconstruction and hopes to secure U.S. military help to strengthen its air defense system, particularly after the deadly Jan. 28 drone attack by Iranian-backed militants. against a US military base in the northeast. Jordan. Three American soldiers died in that attack.

“Politics is the art of managing long-term international political relations and managing emergency crises,” Al-Sharafat said, adding that Jordan’s domestic politics has dictated the country’s tough stance toward Israel’s actions in Gaza and has also prevented the king and other senior leaders from condemning the brutal attack carried out by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel on October 7.


Anti-Israel protests in Jordan

A boy waves a Jordanian national flag during a demonstration in Amman, Oct. 27, 2023, in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip amid the war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images)

“First of all, the king presents himself to the Arab and Islamic world and to the world as a defender and guardian of Islamic sanctities in Jerusalem, which was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan until 1967,” Al-Sharafat said. “Second, social and demographic factors in contemporary Jordan, in which half of Jordanian citizens are of Palestinian origin, pressure the regime to take a hard line and sometimes extreme positions against Israel and the United States. as a supporter of Israel.”

Less than three weeks after the murderous Hamas attack, Queen Rania, herself a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, spoke out harshly against Israel’s military response, refusing to acknowledge any of the atrocities carried out by the Iran-backed terrorist group in interviews with Western journalists and on social networks. Her comments were followed by accusations from Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi, who called Israeli actions in Gaza a “war crime.”

Rockets are fired at Israel from Gaza

Rockets are fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

“To vent and control the feelings of the popular masses and the Islamist opposition, Queen Rania and Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi were allowed to make strong statements,” Al-Sharafat said.

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a D.C.-based think tank, called Jordan’s position during the current conflict “strange.”

“He has been scathing when it comes to Israel,” he said, acknowledging that this is due to the country’s large Palestinian population.


King Abdullah II of Jordan shakes hands with President Biden at the White House on February 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

However, Schanzer said, “Jordan is also fighting Iranian-backed militias on its border with Syria, and while Jordanians may not like it, they face the same enemy as the Israelis. Furthermore, Israel remains critical to stability.” of Jordan because of the “Water, gas and intelligence are provided by the Israelis.”

“All this seems to go unnoticed by the king,” he continued. “Queen Rania has emerged unquestionably as a defender of the Palestinians since October 7, and her voice has been quite disturbing, not because she is pro-Palestinian but because her comment seems removed from the realities of Jordan’s vulnerabilities and its great dependence on Israel.”

Schanzer said that despite the apparent discrepancies between the Jordanian and American approaches to the conflict in the Middle East, “Jordanians are still pinning their hopes on a strong America.”


King Abdullah and Netanyahu

FILE: In this image provided by the Royal Court of Jordan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan during a visit to Amman on January 16, 2014 in Amman, Jordan. Photo from the Royal Court of Jordan via Getty Images. (Photo from the Royal Court of Jordan via Getty Images)

He said the US’s “failure to push the Jordanians toward a more moderate position vis-à-vis Israel reflects a complete lack of American leadership.”

“We need to keep our strongest allies in the region more united,” Schanzer said. “They may not be best friends, but they need to be together or apart… This should be our message.”

Calls and emails to Jordan’s spokesperson at its embassy in Washington, DC, seeking comment were not returned.

By Sam