Jordan’s King Abdullah II revealed on Sunday in an interview with CNN for the first time that he had indeed secretly met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this month, as was reported in the Israeli media.
The secret meeting with Bennett was reported a little over two weeks ago, as the two countries were finalizing a major water deal.
Such meetings between former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah were rare and had not happened for a number of years due to rising tensions between the two countries and more specifically, between the two leaders.
The king also confirmed in the interview that he met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the weeks after the formation of Israel’s new government.
At the meeting, Bennett and Abdullah reportedly agreed that the two countries must heal that rift, using the water deal as a first step in the right direction.
According to Israeli reports, a secret meeting between Abdullah and Gantz happened in late February, as an attempt to boost the latter’s chances of besting Netanyahu in the election — which was set to take place later that month — echoing the reasons for his 2018 meeting with then-Labor Party chairman, Avi Gabbay.
In the CNN interview however, King Abdullah II said the meeting took place after the new government’s formation.
“It is possible to advance ties” with Jordan, but Netanyahu’s “presence interferes with the advancement of [the] relations,” Gantz said in a Zoom call with Blue and White activists in March.