Abdullah hopeful for int'l ME peace conference

Says separation of Gaza from W. Bank unacceptable at both Palestinian and Arab levels.

abdullah 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
abdullah 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Jordan's King Abdullah II urged Palestinians on Friday to overcome internal divisions to realize their goal of an independent state. The king's call comes as the Fatah and Hamas movements remain deeply divided, both physically in their respective strongholds of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and ideologically in their approach toward Israel. "We call upon all our Palestinian brothers to let sound judgment and reason prevail," Abdullah said in an interview with Jordanian television. "The separation of Gaza from the West Bank is unacceptable at both the Palestinian and Arab levels." The violent seizure of the Gaza Strip by Hamas in June has created dueling Palestinian governments, with Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip and loyalists of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in charge in the West Bank. Hamas opposes Israel's existence, while Abbas seeks a political accommodation. Abullah held out high hopes for an international Mideast peace conference called for by US President George W. Bush and scheduled to take place in November. He said the meeting would be a "significant opportunity to resolve the core conflict in the region between Israelis and Palestinians in accordance with international resolutions and the Arab peace initiative." The peace plan referred to by the king envisions full Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for lands it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. The US and Israel have said the plan could be a basis for reviving the Arab-Israeli peace process, but Israel has also expressed reservations over many of its provisions, including the call to solve the Palestinian refugee issue. Abdullah called on Israel "to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people ... and cooperate for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian land." The king is scheduled to visit France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the coming days to push forward the Mideast peace process.