|Photo by: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman|
Jordan forming int'l bloc to spur peace talks
King Abdullah says he is working with European countries to restart long-stalled negotiations between Israel, Palestinians.
Jordan is in the process of consolidating an international coalition to
kick-start the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the country’s King
Abdullah said Sunday in an interview with French publication Le Nouvel
“We are working closely with several parties in Europe,
including France, to put some effective and workable ideas on the table that
would enable the US to engage and play a leading role in the peace process soon
after the start of the second term of President [Barack] Obama,” Abdullah said
in his interview, translated into English by The Jordan Times.
expressed hope that Germany, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE would
participate in the efforts.
Negotiations have been virtually nonexistent
for most of the last four years, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas demanding a settlement moratorium as a precondition to
Abdullah said that he was acting in order to take advantage of a
“window of opportunity that is closing down on the two-state solution rather
The Jordanian leader cited a confluence of factors which he
believes is increasing the likelihood of a peace deal, including: the
inauguration of US President Barack Obama, an international community which is
increasingly enthusiastic about solving the conflict, the recent successful
Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations, and pressures emanating from
the Arab Spring.
“We do not have four more years to wait for the next US
president to work on Middle East peace, particularly [considering] that Israeli
settlements are eating up all Palestinian lands,” Abdullah
Commenting on widespread international condemnation of preliminary
plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the E1 corridor connecting Jerusalem
with Ma’aleh Adumim, Abdullah said the world was united against unilateral
Israeli action in the West Bank. The international community displayed a “strong
stance against settlements, which we agree are one of the main obstacles to
peace, especially in E1 areas,” he said.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu maintains that construction plans for the E1 area do not preclude the
eventual emergence of a Palestinian state, and that his government has
repeatedly called for direct negotiations with the Palestinians without
Turning to Iran, Abdullah said at least some Israeli
politicians are “very determined” to bomb the country’s nuclear sites, though he
doubted the feasibility of such a move.
“The region doesn’t need another
conflict, and I hope the Israeli people realize this,” he said.
Jordanian king added a call for a “Middle East free of nuclear weapons” – a
thinly veiled demand for Israel to dismantle its own nuclear weapons, which
Jerusalem has not admitted to having.
Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem,
meanwhile, said they were unaware of any concrete plans currently underway to
bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table immediately
after Israel’s elections next week.
Netanyahu has said in internal
meetings in recent days that he hopes that after the elections it will be
possible to reengage with Abbas without any preconditions.
He has said,
however, that he remains skeptical because Abbas seemed more intent at this time
in embracing Hamas, rather than in engaging with Israel.
contributed to this report.