US president declares support for Jordan in call to King Abdullah

Joe Biden also reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden conveyed his support for Jordan in a call to King Abdullah II, after Jordan thwarted an operation by dissidents to destabilize the country. Biden emphasized the prominence of King Abdullah’s leadership to the US and the region, the White House reported.

Biden also admitted his country’s encouragement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a return to the long-standing US position that preceded the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, the US announced it would stipulate $235 million in finance for Palestinians that former president Donald Trump cut off, containing $150m for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said US assistance to the Palestinians “serves important US interests and values” and “provides critical relief to those in great need”.

It also nurtures financial development and backings to Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability, Blinken held.

In his first public address since Jordan said it had arrested 16 people on “security charges”, King Abdullah II added that agitation in his country had been “nipped in the bud”.

Among those detained were royal family member Sharif Hassan ben Zaid and the former chief of the royal court, Bassem Awadallah. The former Crown Prince and the King’s half-brother Prince Hamzah bin Hussein said he was placed under house arrest.

“Nothing and no one comes before Jordan’s security and stability, and it was imperative to take the necessary measures to honor that responsibility,” King Abdullah added.

He said the issue was directly demanding for him, given Prince Hamzah’s relationship to the royal family.

“Sedition came from within and without our one house, and nothing compares to my shock, pain and anger as a brother and as the head of the Hashemite family, and as a leader of this proud people,” the King announced.

Prince Hamzah delivered a letter backing the King and pledging his loyalty to him. He has not been arrested.

“Hamzah is today in his palace, with his family, under my care,” King Abdullah said.

Biden’s relationship with King Abdullah II began with the monarch’s ascension to the throne in 1999.

In the post-election period, President Biden’s first call to the region was to the Jordanian King.

US-Jordanian relations weakened during Trump’s term, in part due to a non-committal stance on a two-state solution.

Under the Biden administration, the US designated that it would help Jordan to support its 1.4 million refugees, who make up more than 10 per cent of the population.

The US government also authorized military sales to the Kingdom, including F-16 fighter jets in February. Last month, Washington signed a new defense agreement with Jordan allowing US forces to carry weapons while stationed there. Notwithstanding rehabilitated US support, UNRWA said it yet facing a shortfall of about $150m in its 2021 budget.

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