In Yet Another First, Jordan’s King Plans First Official Visit to Israel

King Hussein is expected to make his first official visit to Israel later this week.

The Jordanian monarch and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin are scheduled to take part in a ceremony Thursday marking the opening of a northern border crossing between Israel and Jordan.

The crossing at the rebuilt Sheik Hussein Bridge, located south of the Sea of Galilee near kibbutz Maoz Haim, is the second border crossing to be opened under the terms of the July 25 Washington Declaration, which officially brought to an end the 46 year state of war between the two countries.

The first crossing, located near the Red Sea cities of Eilat and Aqaba, was opened Aug. 8. Another crossing, the Allenby Bridge, links Jordan with the West Bank but is not considered an official border crossing.

Following the ceremony, Hussein is reportedly expected to visit Beit Gavriel, a guest house on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Several kibbutzim in the Bet She’an Valley said they also hoped to host the king.

On Tuesday, President Ezer Weizman officially signed the Oct. 26 Israeli- Jordanian peace treaty, which opened the way to diplomatic, economic and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

The Knesset approved the treaty on Oct. 25; the Israeli Cabinet and the lower house of the Jordanian parliament gave their approval on Sunday.

Under Israeli law, Israel’s president, not the prime minister, is required to put the final signature on ratified treaties.

Israel and Jordan are expected to open embassies in each other’s countries before the end of the month.

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