Israeli PM visits Jordan to meet king

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a surprise trip to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah.

Jordan’s official statement suggested that the rare meeting between the leaders, who have long had a rocky relationship, dealt primarily with the status of a sensitive holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The sacred compound – the third-holiest site in Islam – sits on a sprawling plateau also home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock.

It is revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Jordan’s royal court said the king urged Israel to respect the status quo at the sacred compound, which allows Jews to visit during certain hours and bars them from praying openly there.

The government also said King Abdullah II pushed Israel to “stop its acts of violence” that undermine hopes for an eventual peaceful settlement to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu’s office said he discussed vaguely defined “regional issues” and security and economic co-operation with Jordan, a key regional ally.

Tensions have simmered between the neighbours over Israel’s new ultranationalist government, which took office late last year.

Already, the Jordanian government has summoned the Israeli ambassador twice since the new government took office – both times after an incident at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The compound is administered by Jordanian religious authorities as part of an unofficial agreement after Israel won control of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel is in charge of security at the site.

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