Jordan's King Abdullah is concerned over Israel's plan for a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, the leader told Yedioth Ahronoth in an exclusive interview. Ahead of his anticipated meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Abdullah said that any unilateral move on Israel's part might deprive the Palestinians of their legitimate and internationally recognized right for an independent state.
Such a unilateral step would foster insecurity and doubts not only in the Palestinian Authority, but among the rest of the peace partners in the region, he added.
The king warned that an Israeli pullout may jeopardize relations between Israel and Jordan. The peace we aspire for needs to be the kind of peace people on all sides would want to support, he stated.
Abdullah said he is looking forward to his meeting with Olmert and that he hopes the Israeli PM would present to him his ideas on how to restart the peace process. The Jordanian leader said he has a few proposals of his own on how to create a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
When asked who can be a partner for peace on the Palestinian side, considering both Israel and Jordan are united in a boycott of the Hamas government, the king said that most of the Palestinians aspire for peace and support a peace settlement, despite politics.
Abdullah stressed that several conditions need to be met before progress in negotiations can take place. First of all, he said, the humanitarian crisis in the PA must be resolved; secondly, the international community and Israel need to strengthen PA President Mahmoud Abbas both politically and financially, so that the president can maintain the Palestinian unity; thirdly, unilateral plans must be avoided; in addition, Hamas must respect and recognize previous Arab peace initiatives; and finally, Israel and the Palestinians must renew their commitment to the Road Map peace plan.
'I am partner for peace'
King Abdullah said that he met Prime Minister Olmert a few times in recent years, and that they spoke during many opportunities. He invited Olmert to visit Jordan last week so to advance the peace process. When Olmert talks about peace, Abdullah said, he should know that he has many partners in the area. Abdullah added that like himself, Olmert has many hopes to bring a workable peace and that he hopes he would carry out steps in this direction in the near future.
On the eve of his first public meeting with Olmert, the Jordanian king is worried by the failure of efforts to make the Hamas government adopt the prisoners' document. The signs of strain can be seen in every corner of Amman: Police officers are everywhere, as are security checks. If riots break out in the West Bank, they could spread into the kingdom. When someone sneezes in the West Bank, they say here, Jordan can catch the flu.
Commenting on the attempts to adopt the prisoner's documents in the PA, which calls on a Palestinian state to be formed on the '67 borders, Abdullah said that the Palestinians are now looking for a breakthrough, and a way to sit at the negotiations table with Israel, and therefore, in his view, a national referendum is an appropriate opportunity to reach a consensus there.
Abdullah added that Mahmoud Abbas is the partner on the Palestinian side. A national referendum will give him the opportunity to each unity. The Palestinian people are victims of the situation, he added, and said he believed that at a certain stage they will say, "enough." It's important to give them an opportunity to go from being victims to interlocutor, Abdullah said.
Responding to the argument that Jordan could as act as a replacement Palestinian state, Abdullah said that Palestinians have only one homeland, in Palestine. He added that Jordan is Jordan, and Palestine is Palestine.