Jordan's King Abdullah: Israel wrecking the chances of peace
During Arab League summit, the Jordanian king condemns Israel's continued settlement construction, adding that 'There is no peace or stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause through a two-state solution.'
Jordan's King Abdullah accused Israel on Wednesday of wrecking the chances of peace by accelerating settlement building in disputed territory in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
"Israel is continuing to expand settlements and wreck chances of peace ... There is no peace or stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause through a two-state solution," the king said in a speech at the start of an Arab summit held beside the Dead Sea.
Divided Arab leaders who are attending the one day summit will be seeking common ground to reaffirm their commitment to a Palestinian state, a longstanding goal that US President Donald Trump last month put into doubt.
At a White House news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Trump indicated he was open to a one-state solution to the conflict.
King Abdullah, whose dynasty has custodianship over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, said any "unilateral" Israeli move to change the "status quo" in the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa mosque would have "catastrophic" consequences on the future of the region, inflaming Muslim sentiment.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also spoke at the summit, saying that efforts to end conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya must "not distract us from seeking to heal the longest open wound in the region, the plight of the Palestinian people."
Guterres said establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is the only solution to the conflict. He reiterated international position that Israeli settlements on war-won land are illegal, and called on Israel to halt construction.
Ahead of the summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he expected the Arab League to give full backing to the Palestinian positions and to deliver a "clear message to the world about Palestinian rights."
The leaders were expected to reaffirm a 2002 Arab peace plan that offers Israel normalization with dozens of Arab and Muslim countries if it cedes the war-won lands for the creation of a Palestinian state.
This would undercut Israel's proposal of a regional peace in which normalization with some Arab countries would precede a deal with the Palestinians. Abbas objects to reopening the Arab plan to negotiations, fearing it would further weaken the Palestinian position vis-a-vis Israel.
The Palestinians and Arabs want east Jerusalem—which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally—as the capital of a future state encompassing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian quest for independence also served as a showcase for Arab unity in a fractured region, where leaders find themselves on opposite sides of long-running conflicts, particularly Syria's six-year-old civil war.
The 21 kings, presidents and top officials gathered on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, with a clear view of the West Bank on the opposite shore.
Syrian President Bashar Assad was absent; he hasn't been invited since Syria's suspension from the 22-member Arab League following his crackdown on a 2011 uprising that quickly turned into a brutal civil war.
The gathering came ahead of White House meetings in coming weeks between Trump and three Arab leaders—Jordan's King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Arab summit was to adopt a series of resolutions, several dealing with the Palestinian issue. The statements, subject to last-minute change, were previously endorsed by Arab foreign ministers.
The draft resolutions condemn Israeli policies, including settlement construction, that are "aimed at eliminating the two-state solution and replacing it with apartheid."
They also warned against moving diplomatic missions to contested Jerusalem. Trump has said he would move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but relocation no longer appears imminent.