'Fortress mentality will leave Israel isolated'

Jordan's Abdullah tells AIPAC delegates that stalemate in Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts will "plunge region into unknown."

Abdullah, Abbas walk in West Bank 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Abdullah, Abbas walk in West Bank 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned on Monday that Israel’s “fortress mentality” would leave it “isolated from the rest of the neighborhood,” the Middle East Online website reported.
Speaking at a meeting with a delegation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he opined that a continued stalemate in Palestinian- Israeli peace efforts would increase tensions in the Middle East and “plunge the region into the unknown.”
According to the report, he purported that the Arab Spring should spur the Israeli government to “embrace peace” and stop unilateral steps such as settlement activity, which he said placed obstacles in the path of peace.
He urged both sides to accelerate efforts to return to the negotiating table on the basis of a two-state solution according to the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
The king stressed that his country was “directly concerned with a just peace in the region,” and said that Jordan would partake in joint efforts to reach an agreement that will end the Aconflict.
Abdullah’s comments to the AIPAC delegates echoed the message conveyed in an interview he gave over the weekend to French publication Le Nouvel Observateur. In the interview, he said Jordan is in the process of consolidating an international coalition to kick-start the stalled peace process.
“We are working closely with several parties in Europe, including France, to put some effective and workable ideas on the table that would enable the US to engage and play a leading role in the peace process soon after the start of the second term of [US] President [Barack] Obama,” Abdullah said in his interview, translated into English by The Jordan Times.
Abdullah expressed hope that Germany, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates would participate in the efforts.
Negotiations have been virtually nonexistent for most of the last four years, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanding a settlement moratorium as a precondition to talks.
Abdullah said that he was acting in order to take advantage of a “window of opportunity that is closing down on the two-state solution rather quickly.” The Jordanian leader cited a confluence of factors which he believes is increasing the likelihood of a peace deal, including: the inauguration of Obama; an international community that is increasingly enthusiastic about solving the conflict; the recent successful Palestinian statehood bid at the UN; and pressures emanating from the Arab Spring.
“We do not have four more years to wait for the next US president to work on Middle East peace, particularly [considering] that Israeli settlements are eating up all Palestinian lands,” the royal said.
Commenting on widespread international condemnation of preliminary plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the E1 corridor connecting Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim, Abdullah said the world was united against unilateral Israeli action in the West Bank.
The international community displayed a “strong stance against settlements, which we agree are one of the main obstacles to peace, especially in E1 areas,” he said.
Turning to Iran, Abdullah said at least some Israeli politicians are “very determined” to bomb the country’s nuclear sites, though he doubted the feasibility of such a move.
“The region doesn’t need another conflict, and I hope the Israeli people realize this,” he said.
The Jordanian king added a call for a “Middle East free of nuclear weapons” – a thinly veiled demand for Israel to dismantle its own nuclear weapons, which Israel has not admitted to having.