January 10, 1996
Tele Aviv - Reuters

ISRAELIS HAIL JORDAN'S KING AS PEACEMAKER

Israelis gave King Hussein of Jordan a royal welcome Wednesday, calling his first public visit to Tel Aviv a living testimony to a blossoming peace. 

The king, a pilot, flew a Jordanian army helicopter to the Sde Dov air base on the edge of Tel Aviv. He emerged from the cockpit to embrace Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Four Israeli F-15 fighter planes flew over to honor the monarch.

"I cannot remember a time that Israel waited for a visitor with such warm anticipation as it has for you your majesty", Peres said in his welcoming remarks.

"Your very presence is testimony to the ever-expanding ties of trust and cooperation which are binding our countries in a deepening, mutual friendship. "Peres said in a reference to their peace treaty signed in October 1994.

Police sealed off the heart of Tel Aviv, deploying a quarter of the country's police force to guard the king who last visited Israel for Rabin's Funeral in Jerusalem two months ago. It was the tightest security the bustling metropolis had ever seen.

The king's visit was his first in public to the Israeli metropolis. He made at least one clandestine trip to Tel Aviv in 1977 when his country was still technically at war with the Jewish state, according to intelligent sources.

"I would like to say how happy we are to have the opportunity to be with our friends, our partners in building and laying the foundations for a comprehensive peace in this region." the king said.

He visited two Jordanian soldiers receiving treatment at the city's Icholov hospital. He was there also to rename a trauma center for slain Prim Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Plans for the visit were drawn before Rabin's assassination on Nov. 4.

Both Israeli and Jordanian officials played down political expectations from the one-day visit.

PLO officials criticized the visit by Hussein, saying he should first have visited lands under Palestinian rule.

Some Palestinian newspapers merely ignored the trip, the kings first in public to the Jewish state's biggest city. Only the pro-Jordanian newspaper al-Nahar gave the visit front-page coverage.

 


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