Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah conducted a rare and secret meeting on Tuesday. The two hour long meeting was not made public until after its conclusion and was described by the Prime Minister as “very positive”.
During the meeting, Netanyahu told Abdullah that Israel believes it is time for direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and expressed his belief that such negotiations are also in the interest of all moderate Arab countries. King Abdullah said during the conversation that peace is the only way in which to achieve security and stability and as such called for all unilateral moves to that delay peace to end.
Speaking of his meeting with the Jordanian king at the at the National Security College's graduation ceremony in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said: “We must have peace agreements that include a solution to the threats against us, because we do not want to repeat what happened when we withdrew from Lebanon and got an Iranian military base in the north, and we do not want to have what happened in Gaza, where a southern Iranian enclave was created with increasing armament.”
The two leaders also discussed ways for Israel and Jordan to cooperate in the fields of economy, energy, and transportation. Of particular significance was their discussion of collaboration between the two countries that would see a railroad linking Eilat, Aqaba and Ashdod.
“I told the king of Jordan that we are going to connect the State of Israel with a network of roads and trains, and that we are starting to build a valley train from Haifa to the Jordan Valley,” said Netanyahu. ”King Abdullah said, 'We are also building a train to the same area, let’s connect.”
Tuesday’s meeting was not the first surprise meeting between the two leaders. In May 2009, Netanyahu paid a surprise visit to Jordan. During that meeting, Abdullah demanded that Netanyahu “immediately declare his commitment to a two-state solution, [declare] acceptance of the Arab peace initiative and to take necessary steps to move forward toward a solution.” He also said that Israel must open all crossings into Gaza.
In the past year, the Jordanian king has voiced some anti-Israel remarks. Last May, he warned that following discussions with US President Barack Obama that war will break out within 18 months if Israel does not accept the Saudi Arabian 2002 Peace Plan. In April of this year, the king warned that the status of Jerusalem could blow up into another war and stated that Jordan was better off economically before it made peace with Israel in 1994. He also said at the time: “I think the long-term future of Israel is in jeopardy unless we solve our problems. Fifty-seven countries in the world, a third of the United Nations, do not recognize Israel. In a way, I think North Korea has better international relations than Israel.”
Netanyahu summarized Tuesday’s meeting by saying that Jordan has a great significance in promoting peace and that King Abdullah constitutes an essential factor of the process to achieve peace.