Jordan’s king says I expected more from US in pushing Mideast peace 19Oct09 October 20, 2009

Haaretz -  19 October 2009


Jordan’s king on Monday said the U.S. administration seems to be focusing more of its attention on Iran and less on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, warning that time was running out to make peace.

In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, King Abdullah II said the region’s hopes for peace were huge at the start of the Obama administration, but now sees the goal getting farther away.

“I’ve heard people in Washington talking about Iran, again Iran, always Iran,” Abdullah was quoted as saying.
“But I insist on, and keep insisting on the Palestinian question: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most serious threat to the stability of the region and the Mediterranean,” he added.

Abdullah granted the interview on the eve of a visit to Italy starting Monday.

He said the two sides have a window of opportunity over the next year to make progress on creating a two-state solution, after which point the possibility of a Palestinian state will disappear as more Arab land gets swallowed up by Jewish settlements.

“The window of opportunity will soon close,” he said.

“By the end of 2010, if Israel doesn’t believe in the two-state solution, the possibility of a future Palestinian state will disappear because of geographic reasons: already the land is fragmented into cantons,” Abdullah added.

He urged Washington and the European Union to put pressure on Israel to sit down with the Palestinians to negotiate peace, even though he remained suspicious of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and somewhat disillusioned with the U.S. effort to date.

“I’ll be sincere; I had expected more, sooner, of the U.S. efforts and the seven missions already conducted by the U.S. envoy George Mitchell,” the king was quoted as saying.

He concluded: “I believed in a decisive turn at the beginning of the summer, ahead of a true peace negotiation at the United Nations, but the question of Israeli settlements – which are illegal according to the international community – remains central.”

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