Different takes on Amman meeting

In a recent meeting with a delegation of Jewish leaders, Jordan’s King Abdullah praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for working to bring the Palestinians to the peace table, according to a spokesman for the delegation.

But the Jordanian media reported the opposite.

The delegation of nearly 100 Jewish leaders, participants in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’ annual meeting in Jerusalem, had a “remarkably candid and open exchange” Feb. 19 in Amman with Abdullah, said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference.

Hoenlein said Abdullah expressed “appreciation” to Netanyahu for taking steps to help in “creating a climate in which negotiations [with the Palestinians] can move forward.”

Meanwhile, Jordan’s state news agency says that in that same meeting, the king blamed Israel for the deadlocked peace process.

According to the Associated Press, Jordan’s Petra News Agency reported that in the meeting, Abdullah was specifically concerned over Israel’s “unilateral policies,” including changing the identity of the traditionally Arab sector in east Jerusalem and tampering with Muslim holy shrines there.

On Feb. 20, Netanyahu told the Conference of Presidents group that the Arab Spring movement has placed “enormous pressure” on Israeli defenses and has itself hampered the peace process.

Netanyahu said that with most of the Arab countries that had rebellions now being run by Islamists, achieving progress with the Palestinians is difficult because they “pile precondition on precondition” in order to appease their radical patrons.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met five times in Jordan in January in an attempt to jump-start direct negotiations. The Palestinians have said they will not return to the negotiating table until Israel halts building in all settlements. — jta & ap