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Jordan's King: Stalemate in Peace Efforts Increases Tension

Jordan's King meets an AIPAC delegation, warns that the stalemate in peace efforts between Israel and the PA adds to regional tensions.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/15/2013, 4:42 AM

King Abdullah II
King Abdullah II
AFP/File

Jordan's King Abdullah met a delegation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Monday, warning that the stalemate in peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and failure to revive the process would add to tensions in the Middle East and plunge the region into the unknown.

The Jordan Times reported that during the meeting with the delegates, the King explained that ongoing regional transformations should drive the Israeli government to embrace peace and stop unilateral measures that hinder peace efforts. Those measures, he claimed, include construction in Judea and Samaria and what the newspaper termed "trespassing on Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem."

King Abdullah indicated that if Israel continues to adopt a fortress mentality, ignoring current political changes in the region and its peoples’ aspirations for pluralism, democracy, dignity and freedom, such an approach would work against Israel’s interests and will leave it isolated from the rest of the neighborhood.

According to The Jordan Times, he stressed during the meeting that no more time should be wasted, calling on the PA and Israelis to engage in direct talks based on the two-state solution, which, he said, remains the optimal and only formula to end the conflict.

Such a solution, the King added, leads to the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital, that will live side by side with Israel.

King Abdullah asserted that Jordan is directly concerned with a just peace in the region, adding that the Kingdom will proceed with joint efforts with all concerned regional and international players to reach a comprehensive peace that ends the Mideast conflict.

The King reportedly highlighted the significant role that U.S. Jewish organizations can play to push forward peace efforts. He also underlined the importance of the U.S. as a key supporter of the peace process and the need for Washington to engage in efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just peace that enhances prospects of stability and security in the region.

On Sunday, Abdullah said in an interview that he expects to host talks between Israel and the PA as soon as next month. Abdullah said that a “window of opportunity” would soon open, and it was necessary to take advantage of it.

That “window” would commence after the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the U.S. for a second term. Abdullah said that Jordan was coordinating with France and other European countries to come up with fresh ideas to implement an agreement between Israel and the PA. He expected Obama to play a role in the talks as well.

Last year, Jordan hosted talks between Israeli government negotiator Yitzchak Molcho and chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, but the two sides made no progress.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have not met one on one, because Abbas has refused for the past four years to come to the negotiating table with Israel and has continuously tried to impose preconditions on talks.

One of his longstanding demands is that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as final borders. He has also demanded that Israel release all Arab terrorists from its jails, and halt construction in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem for a second time before talks begin. At the same time, he has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist.