Nearly every international leader who comes to Jerusalem offers to host Israeli-
RELATED:Israeli, Palestinian leaders to meet in Amman
French President Nicolas Sarkozy would die for
the opportunity, as would Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Greece,
Russia and many other countries have indicated their interest as well.
host Mideast “peace talks” is a feather in any country’s hat – it gives the
country visibility, status, honor, prestige.
Just ask Spain, which hosted
the Madrid Conference in 1991, and Norway, birthplace of the Oslo
Granted, the planned meeting Tuesday between Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian Authority negotiator
Saeb Erekat is no Madrid Conference.
But still, that the meeting is
taking place in Amman is a diplomatic coup for Jordanian King Abdullah
And it is not a coup that just fell into his lap. No, Abdullah sought
it out. This was made clear in a press release put out by the Jordanian foreign
minister on Sunday, saying that the meeting came about as a result of intensive
efforts by Abdullah, including through meetings in Ramallah in November with
Abbas, and just a few days later with President Shimon Peres in
Jordan is keen on hosting this meeting for a number of reasons.
First, because there is still wide consensus on the Palestinian issue in the
Arab world, even in an Arab world going through tumultuous change.
past, meetings such as these often took place in Sharm e-Sheikh, under the
auspices of now deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Because of Egypt’s
position in the region, and its peace treaty with Israel, Cairo was often the
“go-to” address on Palestinian-Israeli issues.
Since Mubarak’s fall,
however, a void was created, one Abdullah is more than happy to fill.
doing so Abdullah gains credit in Washington and in European capitals, credit
that can’t hurt at a time of far-reaching regional changes.
taking steps to help the Palestinian cause also places Abdullah on a high moral
pedestal in the Arab world, casting him in the role as leader who not only
talks, but also acts, to help the Palestinians.
It gives him legitimacy
as a leader, both in the region and – to a certain degree – among his own
Secondly, while so many in the world – the US, EU, Russia and UN
– give lip service to the goal of reaching an Israeli- Palestinian agreement by
2012, few really have any illusion that it will happen.
Rather, the focus
now is less on conflict resolution, and more on conflict management.
there are few countries in the world more interested in managing this conflict,
or in keeping it from exploding again, than Jordan.
With unrest just
under the surface in Jordan, and a great deal of uncertainty in the kingdom as to what will be on its eastern border in Iraq after the withdrawal of
US troops, the last thing Abdullah needs is an Israeli-Palestinian conflagration
on the West Bank that could spill over to his side of the Jordan River and
ignite the flames there.
According to a report Sunday by Petra, Jordan’s
official news agency, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Al-Kayed
said his country’s efforts in arranging Tuesday’s meeting was based on the
belief that the two statesolution was a top Jordanian interest.
that the only way to realize this was through direct talks that dealt with all
final status issues “in a way that preserves Jordan’s interests.”
is not interested in seeing Palestinian unilateral moves, but rather prefers to
see a state established with Israel’s cooperation and international approval.
Abdullah is not interested in seeing a Palestinian mini-state created on his
border without Israeli recognition, because this would inevitably be a constant
source of tension and cross-border terrorism and violence that could easily
spill over to the East Bank of the Jordan and threaten his
According to Petra, Kayed said the only way to realize a
two-state solution was through direct and serious talks between the two sides,
addressing all final status issues including Jerusalem, refugees, security and
borders “in a way that preserves Jordan’s interests.”
In other words, for
a two-state solution to work it has to be done in a cooperative, orderly manner
with Israeli support and Jordanian input.
A failed Palestinian state
would not only pose a threat to Israel, but also to Jordan.
realizes this, and very much wants a seat around the table where issues that
will have far-reaching consequences for his country are being determined. On
Tuesday he will take up that seat.