Abdullah: Israelis, Palestinians taking ‘baby steps’

Jordanian monarch tells 'Washington Post' that Israelis, Palestinians taking "baby steps" toward direct negotiations.

King Abdullah of Jordan 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
King Abdullah of Jordan 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In spite of the verbal mud slinging between Israelis and Palestinians this week, Jordan’s King Abdullah told The Washington Post he viewed the renewed talks between them in Amman as “little baby steps forward.”
In an interview published Tuesday, in advance of his meeting with US President Barack Obama, Abdullah said he believed both parties had sought a way to get to negotiations.
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“There are a lot of people who look at these negotiations negatively. My answer to that is: For them to at least try to talk to each other is better than nothing. If you understand the region, you realize how important that is,” he told the newspaper. “I am cautious about saying that I’m cautiously optimistic,” Abdullah said when describing the three rounds of Israeli- Palestinian talks that took place this month in Jordan.
In future talks, Abdullah said, he believed the issue of borders should be solved before that of security.
“Once you’ve defined the issue of borders, then you’ve solved the issue of settlements, and you can go straight into security talks,” he said.
In light of the US presidential elections, he said, countries in the region like Jordan need to take the lead to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians together to come to a final-status agreement.
“The responsibility is on all of us to bring the parties close enough together so the Americans can step in and finalize the deal.”
He warned Israel against waiting too long to make peace with the Palestinians.
“We’ll cross the line sooner or later where the two-state solution is no longer possible, at which point the only solution is the one-state solution. And then, are we talking about apartheid or democracy?” he said.
An Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post the best way to ensure a two-state solution is for the Palestinians to remain at the negotiating table.
The Palestinians have threatened to walk away by January 26 if Israel does not halt settlement construction and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
January 26 is the initial date set by the Quartet by which a three-month preparatory period of talks should end.
Israel has insisted that since the talks only started this month, instead of the initial Quartet date of October, the end date for the talks should be April 3.
An Israeli official said time is needed for true progress to be reached during the talks.
“That is why we are urging the Palestinians to continue the talks. We are ready for a discussion on all the core issues and we hope the other side is not going to walk away,” the official said.