The meeting in Amman, on the second day of Pence’s visit to the Middle East, came as tension has increased between the two allies over President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem last month and his decision last week to withhold aid to the U.N. agency that serves Palestinian refugees.
Speaking before the meeting with Pence at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Abdullah reiterated his support for “East Jerusalem as a capital of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with a secure and recognized Israel,” Petra, Jordan’s official news agency, reported.
Jordan is also home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees who could be affected by the cut in U.S. aid to the U.N. agency.
Pence said the two leaders had a “very frank discussion.”
“Look, friends occasionally have disagreements, and we agreed to disagree on the decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “But what we agreed on was the need for all parties to come back to the table.”
Pence had delayed his trip to the region amid the furor over Trump’s decisions, which were seen here as pro-Israel and a slap in the face to Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, canceled a meeting with Pence planned for this trip. The Trump administration said the delay was unrelated to the rising anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.
Pence called Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “a historic decision,” but insisted that the United States takes “no position on boundaries and final status” issues. Those issues are “subject to negotiation,” he said, according to Petra.
He also said that the United States was “committed to continue to respect Jordan’s role” as the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
There have been small but persistent protests in Jordan against Trump’s announcement last month, and over the weekend a small group of protesters held a sign saying that Pence was unwelcome in Jordan. The protests led to the closing of roads around the U.S. Embassy in Amman.
“Jordan is a small country surrounded by conflict, and there’s tremendous pressure right now from the population to stand against U.S. and Israeli policies in the region,” said Oraib al-Rantawi, director of the Quds Center for Political Studies in Jordan.
But doing so is a delicate proposition for Jordan’s government, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and is heavily dependent on U.S. aid.
The United States has provided Jordan with more than $15 billion in economic and military aid since the 1950s. In 2015, the Obama administration and Jordan signed a three-year agreement in which the United States pledged $1 billion annually in foreign assistance, subject to the approval of Congress.
“Trump’s decision on Jerusalem represented Jordan’s worst fears when it comes to the peace process,” said Amer Sabaileh, a political analyst and columnist in Amman. “Yet Jordan knows perfectly well it’s impossible to go against the United States.”
But recently there have been signs that Jordan’s role in the region is changing.
Saudi Arabia’s strategic shift to align itself with Israel and the Trump administration in recent months, in an effort by all three countries to counter Iran, has diminished Jordan’s role as regional mediator with Israel and power broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“Now that the regional axis of power is firmly in the gulf, Jordan simply doesn’t have the strategic importance it used to,” said Sean Yom, an associate professor of political science at Temple University.
In another blow to Jordan, the Trump administration announced last week that it would withhold $65 million in aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which aids Palestinian refugees. Trump had angrily called U.S. aid to Palestinians worthless after Palestinian leaders said the United States should no longer play a role in peace talks with Israel.
The State Department said the funding decision was intended to encourage other countries to increase aid and to promote reform at the relief agency.
Unless other countries fill the gap, the reduced funding could have a huge impact on Jordan, which has more than 2 million registered Palestinian refugees who rely on the agency for education and health services. Several hundred thousand Palestinians live in 10 refugee camps administered by the agency.
“The economic situation is already quite bad in Jordan, and Trump’s decision will impact people like us directly,” said Abdul Rahman Qanas, 52, a resident of the Baqaa refugee camp, the largest in Jordan with about 100,000 residents.
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The refugee agency provides Qanas with blood pressure medicine every month and routine checkups for his family. All of his children attended the agency’s schools.
“Trump and Israel want to end the Palestinian cause; they want to erase the idea of Palestinian refugees,” he said. “They want to pressure Jordan, the Palestinians and others to give into the demands of an imaginary peace process that benefits only Israel, and that is unacceptable.”
The federal government of Nigeria has revealed that work will commence on establishing cattle colonies across the country next week. Minister of agriculture and rural development, Audu Ogbeh, who disclosed this when he visited the agriculture and veterinary complex of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, however explained that states which are not interested in the idea would be exempted.
He said that the committee working on the matter had decided that activities in this regard would begin by next week. The government had proposed the establishment of cattle colonies as a way to avert the recurring bloody clashes between herders and farmers that has left hundreds dead and property destroyed.
According to Leadership Sunday, there is tension in the land following the killings perpetrated by herdsmen in various parts of the country of late, the most prominent being the attacks on Benue communities in the New Year which left 73 people dead and hundreds of houses destroyed.
But some states, including Benue, where Ogbeh hails from, stoutly rejected the establishment of colonies, saying they do not have land for such.
However, defending the concept, Ogbeh said it was part part of the resolutions by the committee set up to resolve the conflict.
“One of the most topical issues we have today is that of farmers and herdsmen clashes,” he said.
“If we do not deal with it quickly, we run the risk of damaging the harmony and the co-existence of Nigeria as a country. The killings are getting too many.
“In our attempt to solve the problem, we have proffered certain solutions, but perhaps we were not sensitive enough to Nigeria’s fragile sensitivities and suspicions.
“When we spoke of colonies, we were immediately greeted with reactions that this was an attempt to seize Nigeria’s land and give to the Fulanis to colonise.
“The intention is not for Fulanis or anyone to colonise any territory.
It is to provide a haven for cattle to graze in peace under controlled environments to prevent the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.
“Only yesterday, a committee was set up by the vice-president with members, most of them state governors, discussing this matter and resolving that states that are interested will begin work on this matter as soon as next week.’’
Cristiano Ronaldo got his Twitter fans talking after he examined a cut to his face using the mobile phone of a Real Madrid doctor while walking off the pitch towards the end of Sunday's 7-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna.
Ronaldo sustained the injury while scoring Real’s sixth goal in the 84th minute as Deportivo defender Fabian Schar kicked the Portuguese forward in the face. The cut bled profusely, leaving tracks down his face, making him uncomfortable.
As Ronaldo walked towards the dressing room, he asked one of the medical staff if he could use his phone and was seen using the mobile's screen to check out his face, however, once fans glimpsed the act, they took to Twitter to poke fun at the Portuguese star saying he took his obsession with his image to new heights.