Jordan's king: Region heading towards abyss

YNet News (Link) - Roee Nahmias (November 9, 2009)

In interview to al-Hayat newspaper, King Abdullah warns, 'If we miss this opportunity and peace is not achieved in a year or two, I believe our generation will not see peace'

Jordan's King Abdullah II warned on Monday against the continuation of the political stalemate reached in the region. In a special interview to London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Abdullah warned that if the current situation continues, it would be "heading towards an abyss. If there is no progress, if there is no vision, I am concerned about Palestine, and about the entire region."

In the first part of the two-part interview, Abdullah urged Israel to cease its "illegitimate steps that make chances for peace tough."

He said, "Jerusalem is the red line. The Israelis must understand Jerusalem's standing among the Arabs, the Muslims and the Christians, and should not play with fire."

He also commented on statements made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said he does not plan to run for another term in office. "He is a true partner in the peace process, and does everything he can for his people's interests in order to obtain the Palestinians' rights and peace based on two states.

"I understand how President Abbas feels, and his frustration, we hope that it will be possible to move forward with the efforts and restart negotiations based on the right principles, and that President Abbas remains in his role so that a solution that meets the ambitions of the Palestinian people can be reached."

The king added, "We all felt the frustration in light of the fact that the necessary progress was not made. I believe that Israel acted in one way or another to push Abbas and the Arabs, to stop talks from resuming so that the Arabs could say they are not interested in negotiations, allowing Israel to use this as an excuse and say there is no partner for the peace process.

"I have warned more than once that if we do not make progress towards a solution, and if there is no clear and convincing progress, the region is open to some dangerous and difficult possibilities. Maintaining the current situation is unacceptable, and is means that the region is headed towards an abyss. If we miss this opportunity and peace is not reached in a year or two, I believe our generation will not see peace."

On construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Abdullah said, "If the demand is not achieved to freeze the settlements in order to commence talks, there will be a need for binding American and international guarantees in writing via the UN that will confirm that the negotiations will cover all the issues of a permanent settlement, the borders, Jerusalem and the refugees, and will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, in the frame of a clear timetable."