Muslim Wire

King of Jordan: Palestinian-Israeli conflict a priority

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 21, 2009

Jordan’s King Abdullah II called on the international community, especially the United States and Europe to make an immediate and effective effort to launch negotiations to achieve comprehensive peace, noting that Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a priority.

In an interview with Italian daily la republica published Monday, the King stressed that failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution and within a regional and comprehensive context is the most serious threat to peace and stability in the Middle East region and the Mediterranean.

In response to a question about whether the Palestinian issue or the Iranian nuclear problem is the priority as Israel maintains, the King said the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the root cause of conflict in the region, adding that the region will never enjoy regional peace and stability until it is resolved on the basis of the two-state solution.

He noted that when he was in the United States around six months ago there were some voices that focused on ‘Iran, Iran, Iran’ in an attempt to make Iran a priority, but the King’s response was to repeat ‘Palestine, Palestine, Palestine.”

Failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and achieve Arab-Israeli peace is the most serious threat to peace and to stability in the region, including in the Mediterranean, King Abdullah added. That must be the priority.

He warned against a human catastrophe in Gaza, where the suffering will increase as the winter season approaches and called on the international community to move faster to end the blockade.

He commended efforts by the US President Barack Obama, noting that Obama began the first 24 hours of his mandate with a serious effort to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The King was asked if he was disappointed over failure to achieve a breakthrough even after seven missions by US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, He responded, “I was expecting more, and more quickly. I was expecting more of a dramatic breakthrough in early summer. But there has definitely been a delay.”

He said that Israel’s failure to stop the construction of settlements constitutes a major obstacle to efforts to relaunch negotiations. “The settlements are illegal and the international community also considers them illegal.”

“If Israel really believes in a two-state solution, then it knows that those settlements inside the Palestinian territories will become Palestinian property,” he noted. “Stopping the settlements is vital as proof that Israel’s commitment to peace is sincere.”

The interpretation across the Arab states is that Israel does not want peace, King Abdullah said.

He warned against Israeli unilateral actions that seek to change the identity of Jerusalem and threaten its Muslim and Christian holy sites, noting that Israeli attempts to change realities on the ground in East Jerusalem, which is part of Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

King Abdullah added that he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Amman that Jerusalem is of tremendous importance for Jordan and is a red line that cannot be crossed.

The sanctity of Jerusalem must be understood, as well as the dangers posed by excavations that undermine the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque, he warned.

King Abdullah said these measures that also include encroachments on Muslim and Christian property are extremely provocative to the followers of the two monotheistic religions.

Jerusalem should be a symbol of harmony and should be open to the three monotheistic faiths, the King said.

In response to a question about why the establishment of a Palestinian state is an issue of national security for Jordan, the King said, ‘Because, without that, the whole region will never enjoy the peace and stability it deserves.”

“Israel will not reach peace and acceptance in the region unless the Palestinians achieve their independent state,” he stressed. “It is the ideal solution within a comprehensive peace that solves the problem between the Israelis and 57 Arab and Muslim states that do not recognize Israel.”

The King said the status quo is unacceptable and will lead to more conflict, warning that the window of opportunity to achieve peace is very limited. “If we find ourselves, a year or two from now, still asking the same questions, then I fear that our generation will not see peace.”

The King called on the United States and Europe to intensify efforts to achieve peace, stressing that Israel must decide either to integrate itself in the region through comprehensive peace or continue to stay fortress Israel and live with the resulting dangers.

In response to a question about Netanyahu’s call for economic peace, King Abdullah rejected such calls, stressing that the only means to achieve peace is to fulfill the Palestinians’ right to establish their independent state.

Asked about his experience with Netanyahu, the King said, ‘My first experience was not a very pleasant one. We had major crisis between Jordan and Israel, the worst since the peace process.”

He also referred to his last meeting with Netanyahu in Amman in May during which the Israeli prime minister ‘made promises of pursuing peace, but since then Israel has not moved on those promises.

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