PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has rejected talks with Israel at this time, according to the Hebrew-language Maariv newspaper, apparently waiting for the outcome of next week’s meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Last week, the Prime Minister offered to return to the negotiating table immediately and without any pre-conditions.
The Arab world is expecting the U.S. to pressure Israel into specifically accepting the “two-state solution” and halting all construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The discussions in Washington are being billed as crucial to the future of the Middle East.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has maintained the PA must become more stable economically and politically before a new Arab state can be created alongside the Jewish State, a concept that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has rejected.
Israel fears that the objective of the Arab world is to allow the return of several million Arabs who claim to be descendants of former residents in the country. The result would be the domination of Arabs in Israel.
Abbas has conducted a determined single-minded four-year campaign to win international backing for a new PA state based on the Saudi Arabian 2002 Peace Plan that calls for Arab immigration and a new Arab country to be established on all of the land of Judea, Gaza and Samaria, including the Old City of Jerusalem,
The PA includes 250,000 Jews in Jerusalem neighborhoods which were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. The municipality annexed the neighborhoods, including Gilo, Talpiot, Ramot and French Hill, into the capital more than 20 years ago, but the international community has not accepted the change.
Abdullah: Peace or War
Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah II continued a worldwide campaign to pressure Israel into accepting the Saudi Arabian 2002 Peace Plan or face war in 18 months. He told the London Times, “If the call [decision] is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East.”
King Abdullah issued a similar warning during his visit to the United States three weeks ago and repeated his claim that the Jewish state faces war if it does not accept Arab demands.
The newspaper confirmed a report published last week in Israel National News that he and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed a plan for 57 Arab countries to recognize Israel in return for the Jewish State’s acceptance of the Saudi Arabia 2002 Peace Plan.
King Abdullah did not directly respond to the report last week that President Obama suggested that the United Nations take responsibility for Jerusalem’s holy sites. However, he stated that Jerusalem is an “international solution" as opposed to a problem. He did not respond to a report that President Obama suggested the United Nations flag fly over religious sites in the capital.
In his interview with the Times, King Abdullah recalled that his first – and last - meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu 10 years ago was the “least pleasant” during his reign. The Prime Minister is flying to Sharm El-Sheikh Monday morning for talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak in what is expected to be a frank exchange of views without any dramatic results.
King Abdullah will continue his “peace campaign” Monday with a visit to Syrian President Bashar Assad, two days after President Obama ordered the extension of sanctions against the country for supporting terror.
The intense American-led pressure on Israel is expected to receive an additional voice this week with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. “It is all part of one major effort,” King Abdullah told the Times.