(photo credit: AP [file])
Jordan's King Abdullah II flatly rejected a confederation with the Palestinians on Sunday, calling any such proposal at the current time a "conspiracy" against his kingdom and the Palestinians, a local newspaper reported.
Despite government assertions to the contrary, speculation has mounted in recent weeks that Jordan may want to assume a protectorate role in the West Bank by forming a confederation with the Palestinians.
In newspaper remarks published Sunday, Abdullah said he was "fed up talking about this issue."
"We reject the formula of confederation and federation and we believe that proposing this issue at this specific period is a conspiracy against both Palestine and Jordan," Abdullah told the independent Al-Ghad newspaper.
This key US ally fears that any confederation before a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could give credence to Israeli hard-liners, who have urged making Jordan a home for the West Bank's Arabs.
Under a 1950 deal, Jordan administered the West Bank and east Jerusalem until Israel captured them in the Six Day War. Abdullah's father, the late King Hussein, severed administrative links with the West Bank in 1988, handing responsibility to the Palestine Liberation Organization under its late leader, Yasser Arafat.
Hussein said a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation was possible once the Palestinians had an independent state.
In May, the Israeli Maariv daily said that Jordan was pressing hard for a confederation with the Palestinians.
But Abdullah echoed his father's position Sunday, saying it was "premature to talk about the shape of future relations with Palestine and we will not tackle this issue until an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian soil is established."
When asked if there was Israeli or US pressure on Jordan to accept a confederation with the Palestinians, he said, "We will not accept such solutions no matter what the pressures are."
The king harshly rebuked Israel in the interview, underlining his frustration with its peace policies.
Despite cordial relations with his neighbor under a 1994 peace treaty, Abdullah described Israel as a "solid enemy" of the Palestinians, saying the Jewish state "will not achieve the security it desires, unless Palestinian political rights are addressed."
Abdullah also rebuked the Hamas for its military takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.
He warned that Hamas's conquest of the coastal strip would "undermine Palestinian hopes for ending the Israeli occupation and setting up an independent Palestinians state."
The king said he had hoped for a "better outcome" for the Palestinians from last month's Mideast summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh, but did not elaborate. The meeting brought him together with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders as a show of support for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
At the summit, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to free 250 Fatah prisoners, and there was talk of peace negotiations toward creation of a Palestinian state.