Like RFK, King Abdullah (l) was killed by a Palestinian for his relationship with Israel

On July 20th, 1951, Abdullah I, the founding king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and great-grandfather of its current king, was assassinated by a Palestinian nationalist at the Al Aqsa Mosque entrance in Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian annexation at the time. The king’s bodyguards immediately shot the assassin dead. Abdullah’s grandson, Hussein became King as a result.

Born in Mecca in 1882 to the Hashemites, who claim direct descent from the prophet Muhammad, Abdullah was one of the strong leaders of the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule during World War I, meaning he covertly supported the British and French throughout the war. When Arab unity broke down after the war, he almost attacked French forces in Damascus to help his brother Faisal, who was proclaimed king in Syria in 1918, but Winston Churchill, out of all, was able to persuade Abdullah to stop his military campaign against the French. 

When Abdullah declined the offer to assume the throne over Iraq in 1920, Faisal, his brother, became Iraq’s king. Faisal had signed a letter of intent with Chaim Weizmann endorsing a Jewish State in Mandatory Palestine. However, after losing his Kingdom in Arabia to the Al Saud clan, Abdullah established the Emirate of Transjordan in 1921 in the portion of British Mandatory Palestine east of the Jordan River, splitting Mandatory Palestine and leaving less than 25% for a Jewish State. When Transjordan was granted its official independence in 1946, Abdullah became its first king.

Abdullah, who always dreamed of ruling a greater Arab Kingdom which was to extend to Syria and Lebanon and across the Jordan River, supported the Peel Commission’s partition proposal in 1937 and was the only Arab leader to back the UN’s partition plan in 1947 which was almost unanimously denied by the Arab leadership in the British Mandate at the time. His hope was that he would be able to annex more Arab areas in the region as a result. 

He even held secret talks with future Israeli PM Golda Meir about keeping his army out of the fight against Israel upon declaring independence but concluded in early 1948 that he had to go along with his neighbors for the sake of Arab stability. He sent his Arab Legion across the Jordan more than a week before Israel declared independence. During Israel’s War of Independence, his forces occupied east Jerusalem, as well as Judea and Samaria, changing the name to the West Bank to legitimize his claim on it, giving him control of the city’s holy sites, including Al-Aqsa and the Western Wall.

His decision to annex the conquered territory led to the change in the West Bank’s name to Jordan but was not actually recognized by the international community. The annexation angered many local Arabs in East Jerusalem, including a member of the clan of the former grand mufti of Jerusalem named Mustafa Shukri Ashu, who was 21 when he fatally shot Abdullah.


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