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      'Jordan Should Be Involved in PA-Israel Negotiations'

      Advisor to Jordan's King Abdullah II insists that Amman should protect its interests by being involved in talks.
      By Tova Dvorin
      First Publish: 1/3/2014, 8:17 AM

      King Abdullah II
      King Abdullah II
      AFP/File

      Jordan should join the negotiating table immediately, according to one of King Abdullah II's closest advisors. 

      Walla! reports Friday that former Prime Minister Marouf al-Bahit stated to Al-Hayyat, a London-based Arabic-language news source, that Jordan's involvement in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is critical.

      The reason: the lack of a strong Arab leadership - and the Arab world's preoccupation with its own internal crises. 

      "Jordan needs to be present and involved in all future negotiations," al-Bahit stated. He is currently the deputy head of the King's Council, an advisory board closest to the monarch. "It is unthinkable that Jordan should sit on the side, as an observer. Jordan should join the negotiating table immediately - since it is bound to be the one paying the price of the Israeli and American positions." 

      Al-Bahit's position does not represent the prevalent opinion in Amman, according to the article. One senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that Jordan will welcome the decisions sealed by the negotiating process - "without any need whatsoever to sit at the negotiating table." Amman did stress, however, that it would get involved if - and only if - the talks directly harmed their interests, specifically Jordan's borders. 

      Al-Bahit's remarks follow a five-hour long meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday. Kerry has been pushing forward a peace deal, despite both the PA and Israel being reluctant to accept the deal's terms. 

      "I plan to work with both sides more intensely in these next days to narrow the differences on a framework that will provide the agreed guidelines for permanent status negotiations," Kerry told reporters at a press conference before the meeting. "An agreed framework would be a significant breakthrough."  

      In June, current Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nasr declared that the peace talks would directly affect the diplomatic relationship between Jordan and Israel.

      "We see the situation around us and the developments that occur before our eyes, and they only strengthen the belief that the peace process is the key to regional stability,” Nsur told Maariv then. “King Abdullah, U.S. envoy John Kerry and other international groups are working hard to promote the issue."

      "If progress is made,” he added, “and there will be positive results on issues related to negotiations, Israel will instantly improve its relations with all Middle Eastern countries. I repeat again - the issue of talks between Israel and the Palestinians is the central issue which affects the relationship between Israel and Jordan.”