Jewish official played role in Netanyahu-Hussein meeting

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 23 (JTA) – Last week’s hastily arranged meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Hussein of Jordan came about in a most intriguing way. While driving to a doctor’s appointment Nov. 13, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,
received a call on his cell phone from Hussein, then in Washington, saying he was sending his personal aide to Los Angeles on an important mission. The next morning the aide, Gen. Ali Shukri, arrived at the Wiesenthal Center carrying a message from the king. It said Hussein wanted to restore his country’s frayed relationship with Israel and could meet Netanyahu at Hussein’s London home on Nov. 18. According to Hier, Shukri stressed four points motivating the monarch: to re-establish high-level intelligence exchanges, to assess the outstanding issues of Palestinian airport and seaport facilities, to discuss a possible moratorium on Hamas terrorist activities and to cement the personal relationship between Hussein and Netanyahu. Hier said he immediately got in touch with Yoram Ben Ze’ev, Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, who conveyed the invitation directly to Netanyahu. The details were finalized Nov. 17, when Hussein phoned Netanyahu as the prime minister was touring the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance. Hier said he and the king had established a warm personal relationship when the Jordanian monarch toured the Wiesenthal Center last year, and that the king had invited the rabbi to visit him at the Mayo Clinic during his recent illness.

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