Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise visit to see King Abdullah in Amman last week may have been made to assure Abdullah that custodianship of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem would be vested in the newly-created entity to be called the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine - should the merger of Jordan, Gaza and part of Judea and Samaria be implemented (Saudi Solution).
Jordan is the custodian of the Islamic holy sites under the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace treaty. King Abdullah needed to know that implementation of the Saudi Solution would result in the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine becoming the successor custodian - not Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu’s visit took place as direct contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia have been reported. Saudi Arabia’s consent would have been provided to enable Netanyahu to give Abdullah the assurance he needed.
The Palace’s statement confirmed that:
“King Abdullah stressed the importance of respecting the historical and legal status quo in Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.
His Majesty stressed the need to maintain calm and cease all acts of violence, in order to pave the way for a political horizon for the peace process, calling for an end to any measures that could undermine peace prospects”
Netanyahu’s assurance would enable Abdullah to continue supporting the Saudi Solution - the only game in town currently providing a political horizon for the peace process.
King Abdullah’s concerns were not imagined – but soundly based.
The Saudi Solution had not specifically allocated custodianship of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem to the newly-created entity – speaking only of “an appropriate arrangement for the holy places”
This issue of custodianship was shelved again when the Saudi plan was subsequently revised in an unpublished document making major changes to the published original – speaking only of giving the holy places special status – not who would be custodian.
The original and revised versions of the Saudi Solution had been documented prior to the Israeli elections on 1 November 2022.
After Netanyahu’s confirmation as Israel’s Prime Minister - Israel’s new National Security Minister -Itamar Ben Gvir – had visited the Temple Mount – the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry provocatively described his visit as:
“the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and violation of its sanctity.”
King Abdullah needed Netanyahu‘s assurance that Israel would support Jordan’s Hashemite rulers retaining custodianship of the Islamic holy sites - if Abdullah was to show support for implementing the Saudi Solution.
The Palace communique gave Abdullah an exit strategy:
“The King reaffirmed Jordan’s steadfast position in support of the two-state solution, which guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.”
This was indeed King Abdullah’s position prior to publication of the Saudi Solution which trashed the two-state solution – consigning it to the garbage bin of history unimplemented - after being proposed by the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002.
Abdullah has not mentioned the two-state solution once since publication of the Saudi Solution. He is appearing to signal re-supporting the failed two-state solution – should Israel seek during the implementation of the Saudi Solution to renegotiate the current terms of custodianship on terms unacceptable to King Abdullah.
The United Nations, the media and its analysts, and independent analysts have totally ignored the Saudi Solution’s existence since its publication in the Saudi government-controlled Al Arabiya News on 8 June 2022.
None has considered the Saudi Solution newsworthy enough to report on or analyze. It’s time they did.
Netanyahu’s visit to King Abdullah indicates the Saudi Solution may be on the way to being implemented on the way to hopefully becoming a reality.
@b.netanyahu @potus @antonioguterres
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Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades