Jordan Urges Pence to ‘Rebuild Trust’ after Jerusalem Pivot

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -
Jordan’s King Abdullah speaks during his meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan on Sunday. (REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

Jordan’s king appealed Sunday to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to “rebuild trust and confidence” in the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pence, in turn, tried to reassure the monarch that the Trump administration remains committed to restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and views Jordan as a central player.

The vice president also said that “the United States of America remains committed, if the parties agree, to a two-state solution.” Such a caveat deviates from long-standing U.S. support for a two-state solution as the only possible outcome of any peace deal.

Trump’s pivot on Jerusalem last month infuriated the Palestinians, who seek the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as a future capital. They accused the U.S. of siding with Israel and said Washington can no longer serve as a mediator.

Jerusalem is the emotional centerpiece of the long-running conflict, and Trump’s policy shift set off protests and condemnation across Arab and Muslim countries.
It posed a dilemma for Abdullah, who is a staunch U.S. ally, but also derives his political legitimacy in large part from the Hashemite dynasty’s role as guardian of a key Muslim site in Jerusalem. Any perceived threat to Muslim claims in the city is seen as a challenge to Jordan, where a large segment of the population is of Palestinian origin.
Pence told Jordan’s monarch on Sunday that Trump made it clear in his announcement on Jerusalem “that we are committed to continue to respect Jordan’s role as the custodian of holy sites, that we take no position on boundaries and final status.”

The vice president also praised Jordan’s contribution to a U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State extremists who in recent months were pushed back from large areas in Iraq and Syria, both neighbors of Jordan.

Pence was also expected to meet with U.S. troops in the region on Sunday and then depart for Israel.