Jordanian king: No hope for progress in peace talks

Abdullah in ABC interview says reality on ground is sign of pessimism; Mitchell: Obama's comments on 1967 lines not a major policy shift.

King Abdullah_311 reuters (photo credit: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)
King Abdullah_311 reuters
(photo credit: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters)
There is not much hope for progress in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in the coming months, King Abdullah of Jordan told ABC anchor Christiane Amanpour on Sunday.
In a television interview, Abdullah told Amanpour, "My instincts tell me not to expect much over the next couple of months, unfortunately. I just have a feeling that we're going to be living with the status quo for 2011."
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The Jordanian king said current realities on the ground, including Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, are a sign of pessimism.
"When he speaks to me, I see his vision of peace with the Palestinians, peace with the Arabs and I've always left those meetings feeling very optimistic," Abdullah said of his conversations with Netanyahu. "But unfortunately, the circumstances that we've seen on the ground for the past two years does not fill me with much hope."
In contrast, George Mitchell, who resigned earlier this month as President Obama's envoy to the Middle East, told Amanpour in another interview that while "it's indisputable that we have not made as much progress as we would have liked," he said he still has a positive outlook if both sides are willing to negotiate.
"Both sides, I believe, want peace," Mitchell said. "The problem is, do they want peace enough to make the painful concessions that are necessary on both sides?"
Mitchell told Amanpour that while US President Barack Obama's comments on the 1967 borders were "a significant statement" they do not indicate a major shift in policy.
"The president didn't say that Israel has to go back to the '67 lines. He said with agreed swaps," Mitchell told Amanpour in the interview. "Swaps means an exchange of land intended to accommodate major Israeli population centers to be incorporated into Israel and Israel's security needs. Agreed means through negotiations. Both parties must agree."
"That's not going to be a border unless Israel agrees to it and we know they won't agree unless their security needs are satisfied, as it should be," Mitchell said of the 1967 borders.