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King Abdullah I of Jordan

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Emir of Transjordan, first king of Jordan


King Abdullah I (1882-1951) is of the Sunni Muslim Hashemite lineage, which traces its ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad. He served as the Emir of Transjordan during the years of the British Mandate. He lacked the reflective anti-Semitism of other Arab leaders, more willing to accept compromises with the Zionists and the British in pursuit of more territory for his kingdom.

Abdullah got along well with the Zionist leaders in Palestine, especially Weizmann and Ben Gurion. He wasn’t always able to deliver on the kind of cooperation the Zionists hoped for, but he was the go-to guy whenever the British were trying to resolve disputes amongst the Arabs. He very much preferred having a peaceful Jewish state next to him than a state led by Amin al-Husseini.

When the Kingdom of Jordan became an independent state in 1946, Abdullah became its first king. He was assassinated in 1951. The Hashemites continue to rule Jordan — his great-grandson, Abdullah II, is the current king.