King Abdullah seeks US peace effort

Jordanian ruler appeals to US congress to use influence to broker a lasting peace.

    King Abdullah said he hoped peace between Israel and the Palestinians could be acheived this year [AFP]

    Appeal to US
    Abdullah backs the Arab peace initiative, which promises Israel security and diplomatic relations in return for complete Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 as well as giving Palestinian refugees the right of return.
    He said the US should use its influence to broker a peace deal, citing its involvement in brokering previous peace initiatives at Camp David.

    "The goal must be a peace in which all sides gain"

    King Abdullah of Jordan

    "On behalf of all those who seek peace in that part of the world, I ask you [the US] now to exert that leadership again," he said.


    His remarks were limited almost entirely to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


    Abdullah did not explicitly mention Hamas, the current ruling Palestinian party, when referring to the current divisions in the Palestinian leadership or to recent efforts by Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, to revive peace efforts.




    The Jordanian ruler spoke of the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians, and lamented "the 40 years of occupation" that he said Palestinians have endured.


    "The goal must be a peace in which all sides gain," he said. 

    Abdullah's address follows comments made in a

    recent interview with Israel's Channel Two, where he said the new Palestinian government must adhere to the demands of the Middle Eastern Quartet.

    The Quartet demands that any Palestinian government must recognise Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous peace deals.

    His controversial comments were the first from the region to cast a doubt on the willingness of major Arab donors to side-step a US-led embargo of the Hamas-led government unless it commits to the conditions.

    Fares Braizat from the University of Jordan Centre for Strategic Studies said: "Despite the fact that Iraq is occupying the centre stage in Washington and around the world, Jordan has a significant interest in having the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved because it is in the strategic interest of Jordan and without a resolution of that conflict the stability of Jordan in the long term is threatened."

    'Island of moderation'

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    The US-Jordanian relationship has remained strong over the years. 

    Despite the lack of democracy in Jordan and the sometimes heavy-handed tactics of the security forces, successive American administrations have seen the Hashemite kingdom as an island of moderation and relative stability in a stormy region.

    Trade and aid bolster those ties, as did Jordan's post-9/11 cooperation with Washington against terrorist groups.

    Jordan, along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, are seen as part of a Sunni coalition that the US is trying to build against Iran.

    Jordan, which has accepted nearly a million Iraqi refugees, has also been heavily involved in the training of Iraqi security forces.

    The US administration, in turn, has requested $245m in economic aid for Jordan and $206m in military aid for Jordan.

    "The US has acknowledged many times that the Jordanian intelligence forces are among the best in the region in terms of combating terrorism.

    "They have people on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and they have delivered vital and important information at critical times," said Braizat.

    Abdullah's father, King Hussein, addressed a joint session of the US Congress 13 years ago. 

    However the prospects for a final peace deal [between Israel and the Palestinian Authority] have progressed little since then.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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