Palestinians must be part of regional economic projects, Jordan King tells Israel PM

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Jordan’s King Abdullah on Wednesday told Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Amman that Palestinians should be part of US-sponsored regional economic projects to underpin stability in the Middle East.

He also told Lapid, in the first meeting after US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region earlier this month, that the creation of a Palestinian state was essential to reach lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis.

A statement from the office of Israeli interim premier Yair Lapid said he and King Abdullah discussed recent regional changes, an apparent reference to ties that have improved between Israel and several Arab nations in recent years.

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They also talked about how to deepen cooperation between the two countries, including in renewable energy projects, tourism, food security and agriculture, according to Lapid’s office.

King Abdullah “stressed the need to find a political horizon to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace” with the Palestinians, according to a statement from the Jordanian Royal Court.

He also asked that Israel work to maintain calm in Jerusalem and its holy sites, a frequent flashpoint for violence with the Palestinians.

Israel and Jordan made peace in 1994 and maintain close security ties, but relations soured in recent years amid persistent tensions at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, which is a key holy site to both Muslims and Jews, as well as Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and the lack of any progress in the long-moribund peace process.

The countries also fell out over a shooting incident by a guard at Israel’s embassy in Amman.

Lapid, a centrist former broadcaster, has been serving as interim prime minister since the coalition government he helped unite collapsed last month. This fall, he hopes to defeat former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a nationalist under whom relations with Jordan became strained. It will be Israel’s fifth vote in under four years.

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