Jordan’s King Abdullah Stresses Urgency of Mideast Peace Process

By David Shelby
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - Jordan’s King Abdullah II called on the United States to assume a central role in resolving the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, telling a joint session of the U.S. Congress March 7 that “the security of all nations and the stability of our global economy are directly affected by the Middle East conflict.”

“Your responsibility today is paramount,” he told the congressmen and senators. “Your potential to help Palestinians and Israelis find peace is unrivalled.  This is because the people of the region still regard the United States as the key to peace, the one country most capable of bringing the two sides closer together, holding them accountable, and making a just settlement reality.”

He noted that all major breakthroughs in the peace process have occurred when the United States was determined to help the parties succeed, and he called on his audience to show such leadership now.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to the region in February to participate in informal discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  (See related article.)

Following those discussions, Rice met in Berlin with members of the Quartet for Middle East peace, which issued a statement reiterating the group's support for a Palestinian state that respects Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and adheres to all previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  The Quartet consists of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.  (See related article.)

“The wellspring of regional division, the source of resentment and frustration far beyond, is the denial of justice and peace in Palestine,” Abdullah said.  “I come here today as your friend to tell you that this is the core issue. And this core issue is not only producing severe consequences for our region, it is producing severe consequences for our world.”

He said the cycle of crisis has become more pronounced and more potentially devastating as people have lost faith in the peace process and added that the victims of the growing violence are not only in the Middle East.  “People around the world have been the victims of terrorists and extremists, who use the grievances of this conflict to legitimize and encourage acts of violence,” he said.  (See Response to Terrorism.)

The king urged the United States to capitalize on growing international support for the peace process.  Specifically, he mentioned Saudi King Abdullah’s 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which is gaining increased acceptance among other Muslim nations.  The initiative calls for full normalization of Arab-Israeli relations and collective security guarantees in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from land it has occupied since 1967 and the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state.

Abdullah said that his father, the late King Hussein, and the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin addressed a similar session of Congress in 1994, calling for peace in the Middle East, but he said 13 years later, the work remains unfinished.

“It is time to create a new and different legacy, one that begins right now; one that can set a positive tone for the American and Middle East relationship; one that can restore hope to our region’s people, to your people, and to the people of this precious world,” he said.  “Nothing can achieve that more effectively, nothing can assert America’s moral vision more clearly, nothing can reach and teach the world’s youth more directly, than your leadership in a peace process that delivers results not next year, not in five years, but this year.”

For information on U.S. policies, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.