King Hussein Makes First Public Trip to Tel Aviv (L-R) King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres at a reception in honor of the King in Tel Aviv. Photo: GPO Israel

January 10, 1996

Jordan’s King Hussein makes his much-anticipated first public visit to Israel, almost 15 months after the two countries signed a peace treaty.

The king co-pilots a Jordanian army helicopter to the Sde Dov airfield north of Tel Aviv, then drives with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, where two Jordanian soldiers are being treated and where Yitzhak Rabin died the previous November after being shot by Yigal Amir. Hussein joins Rabin’s widow, Leah, in dedicating a trauma center at the hospital in the name of the late prime minister, who signed the peace treaty with the king in October 1994.

Jordan’s prime minister, Zeid Bin Shaker, and foreign minister, Abdul Karim al-Kabariti, join the king for the visit, which also takes him to Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv and to Beit Gavriel on the Sea of Galilee, where a ceremony is held to honor Israeli Ambassador Fayez Tarawneh, the chief negotiator of the Israeli-Jordanian treaty.

Tel Aviv is decorated with Jordanian and Israeli flags, and crowds turn out to greet the king, who made a secret visit to Tel Aviv in 1977. During this first public visit, Hussein expresses hope for peace “not only between our two countries and people, but hopefully for this entire region in the very nearest possible future.” Peres, who like the king references Israeli peace talks with Syria, says, “By the end of the century, which is a matter of another four years, I do believe that the Middle East can reach a comprehensive, full peace.”