PA, Jordan deny confederacy rumors

Erekat: Abbas-Abdullah talks will focus on reviving ME peace, not hearsay.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
On the eve of Sunday's summit between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II, PA and Jordanian officials denied rumors according to which the kingdom is interested in a confederation with the Palestinians. The summit, which will be held in Ramallah, marks the monarch's first visit to the PA territories since 2000. "Rumors about a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation are completely untrue," said chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat. "We must not relate to these rumors at all. The Palestinians are working toward establishing an independent Palestinian state." Erekat said the Abbas-Abdullah talks would focus on ways of reviving the Middle East peace process. "The Jordanian king has long been involved in efforts to revive the peace process and oblige Israel to [accept] the pre-1967 borders so that the Palestinians would be able to establish their won state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said. "The two leaders will discuss all possible ways to resume peace talks [with Israel] on the basis of United Nations resolutions, the road map and the Arab Peace Initiative." Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit also dismissed reports to the effect that his country was about to revoke its 1988 decision to disengage from the West Bank. At the time, Jordan announced that it was cutting off its legal and administrative relations with the West Bank to pave the way for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state there and in the Gaza Strip. The Jordanians were hoping that the move would put an end to calls for turning the kingdom, where more than 70 percent of the population is Palestinian, into the future Palestinian state. "It's premature to talk about a confederation or federation with the Palestinians, because this might harm the interests of both countries," Bakhit said during a meeting with a group of Palestinians from the Wehdat refugee camp near Amman. He said Jordan's main goal was to establish an independent Palestinian state. It would be possible, Bakhit added, to discuss Jordanian-Palestinian relations after a Palestinian state was established. Regarding Jordan's disengagement from the West Bank, Bakhit stressed that this was an entirely Jordanian decision. "It's impossible to retract it, and in the meantime, disengagement is not on the table," he said. In Amman, government sources said Abdullah would discuss with Abbas international efforts to jump-start the peace process based on the Arab peace plan first launched in Saudi Arabia in 2002 and revived at a summit in Riyadh two months ago. The Arab League has mandated Egypt and Jordan - along with Mauritania the only Arab countries with peace treaties with Israel - to promote the offer to Israel. Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh told The Associated Press that Abdullah's visit "reflects the king's continuous and well-known position and efforts to push all the sides to the negotiation table and his full support for the establishment of a Palestinian state." Sunday's summit comes amid increased calls to dismantle the PA both because of its failure to govern and the continued international sanctions on the Palestinians. Many Hamas and Fatah leaders have expressed support for the idea, saying this would create pressure on the international community to resume financial aid to the Palestinians. Nabil Amr, a senior adviser to Abbas, dismissed the calls as unrealistic. "The only way to resolve the current crisis in the Palestinian Authority is by having representatives of all Palestinian factions set around one table to search for a suitable solution. "These are hasty and emotional calls," he added. "We must stop talking about this subject. The Palestinian people established the Palestinian Authority as a first step toward statehood. If it's facing difficulties now, we must not dissolve it."