King Abdullah warns annexation would have 'major impact' on Israel ties

While admitting he took PM Netanyahu's pre-election annexation statements with a "pinch of salt," Jordan's king added that such comments do "not help at all."

Jordan's King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 25, 2018 (photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
Jordan's King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 25, 2018
The Israel-Palestinian conflict is the “core conflict” in the Middle East and has done more “global damage” than any other conflict in the world, Jordan’s King Abdullah said at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
That, perhaps, is the reason why he devoted nearly five minutes of a nine-minute address to the issue, while never once mentioning other pressing issues in the region, such as the situation in neighboring Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, or in nearby Lebanon, Iran and Yemen.
“Neither side has achieved the durable peace that a secure future depends on, and regional and world stability has continued to pay the price,” he asserted.
Using lofty rhetoric, Abdullah said that “segregation, force, displacement, violence and mistrust do not belong in this Holy Land.”
He invoked the name of his father King Hussein, whose attacks on Israel during the Six Day War led to Israel’s hold on the West Bank, and said that he decried in a speech to the UN 40 years ago the “occupation and attempts, in his words, to eradicate from the world’s memory centuries of history and tradition, and spiritual, moral and cultural ideals.”
Referring to Jerusalem, he said that “all attempts to alter the legal status of east Jerusalem, and the authentic, historic character of the Holy City of Jerusalem” must be rejected.
Abdullah’s tough words on Israel, coming as the two countries are set in a month to mark 25 years since their peace agreement, followed an interview he gave on Monday warning that Israeli annexation of the West Bank would have a “major impact” on ties between the two countries.
Abdullah, in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on the sidelines of the UNGA, said that he took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election statement regarding annexation with a “pinch of salt” because of the timing.
However, he added, “a statement like that does not help at all, because what you do is hand the narrative to the worst people in our neighborhood. We – who want peace and want to be able to move forward – tend to be more isolated.”
In the days before last week’s voting, Netanyahu said that if elected he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley, and after that, in consultation with US President Donald Trump, would extend sovereignty to other settlements and “vital areas.”
“If the policy is to annex the West Bank, then that is going to have a major impact on the Israeli-Jordanian relationship and also on the Egyptian-Israeli relationship, because we are the only two Arab countries that have peace with Israel,” Abdullah said. “If there is a box that is being ticked on a certain government getting everything that it wants, without giving anything in return, what is the future? Where are we going to go unless we are going to be able to get Israelis and Palestinians to come together, to live together, and be the message for the future?”
Abdullah said that once a government is formed in Israel, countries in the region and the international community “will all jump on board and say we can focus back on what most of us believe is the only solution: the two-state solution.”
A one-state solution, he said, would be “an apartheid future for Israel, which I think would be a catastrophe for all of us.”
Mitchell, in her first question to Abdullah on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, appeared to absolve Palestinian leadership of any responsibility for the current diplomatic stalemate.
“Is this a critical moment where the two-state solution is – some fear – all but dead, because of US and Israeli policies?” she asked. “The Palestinians have been shut out of the process. Jerusalem is now the capital – no longer a negotiating point for a final solution. So where do we stand now, given how supportive the US has been of Netanyahu’s policies? and this has shut out the Palestinians from any role in diplomacy.”