Jordan’s King Abdullah II, hosting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a previously unannounced visit Thursday morning, demanded that he “immediately declare his commitment to a two-state solution, [declare] acceptance of the Arab peace initiative and to take necessary steps to move forward toward a solution.”
He also said that Israel must open all crossings into Gaza, which was taken over by the Hamas terrorist organization two years ago. The royal palace released the king’s remarks, and no response from Prime Minister Netanyahu was reported. His office earlier stated that Jordan is a peace partner with Israel and a key to regional peace.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s surprise visit came several days before he travels to Washington for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama. The Prime Minister’s office said he traveled to Jordan to coordinate policies in preparation for his trip and added that the visit had been postponed because of pressures involved in passing the proposed budget in the Cabinet.
After King Abdullah’s discussions with President Obama in Washington last month, the monarch warned thatwar will break out within the next 18 months if Israel does not accept the Saudi Arabian 2002 Peace Plan, based on shrinking the size of Israel to that which existed in 1949. The plan also calls for the right of approximately five million foreign Arabs to immigrate to Israel on the basis of their families having once lived there, prior to fleeing during the 1948 War of Independence.
While Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Aqaba, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was on his way to Damascus to speak with Syrian President Bashar Assad on "the elaboration of the common Arab position on negotiations with Israel after an extreme right government took power in Israel,” according to the PA.
Foreign media reported that Assad and Abbas will come up with a proposal that Syrian-Israeli talks be resumed as part of a regional peace agreement that would include the establishment of a new PA state.
The tactic fits in well with the strategy of advisors to President Obama who want a package accord that also includes stopping Iran from becoming a nuclear power, which Washington has suggested as a condition for Israel to agree to the Saudi initiative.
Hamas, whose politburo chief Khaled Mashaal is based in Damascus, said it will boycott Abbas’s visit, which comes two days after Abbas announced he will form a new government headed by incumbent Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Fayaad last month said he would resign as a step to encourage progress in unity talks between Hamas and Fatah, but the negotiations have failed.
Abbas’s visit to Syria continues a four-year strategy that has succeeded in winning support from the Arab world and its allies for the Saudi plan, without conceding anything to Israel. Constant American and European Union backing have provided momentum for his insistence on an all-or-nothing agreement with Israel.
The election of President Obama, who was heavily backed by dovish American Jews, has built a nearly universal platform of support for PA demands.
Months of talks under Egyptian auspices have failed to produce an agreement on a unity government between the two parties.