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Mind your language, says Israel
King Abdullah of Jordan warns against a new conflict within 12 to 18 months if peace isn’t brokered soon Israel takes offence in the wording.
May 13, 2009 11:31 by Parinaaz Navdar
If the Middle East fails to reach an agreement for peace in the region, it will result in a new conflict within 12 to 18 months, King Abdullah of Jordan warned that in an interview with The Times. His comments came ahead of a Middle East debate at the UN Security Council, before separate visits by Middle East leaders to the White House begin later this month.
The United States is developing a peace plan for the Middle East, which aims to end more than 60 years of conflict between Israel and Palestine and other Arab countries including Syria and Lebanon, according to King Abdullah, who is helping to bring the parties together.
The king said that the plan proposed a “57-state solution” that would include all 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), whereby the Arab and entire Muslim world would recognize the Jewish state as part of the deal. “The future is not the Jordan River or the Golan Heights or the Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic and Indonesia in the Pacific. That is the prize”, explained the king.
Incentives offered to Israel could include the right for El Al, the Israeli airline, to fly over Arab air space and visas for Israeli tourists to Arab states.
The Israeli Government has so far rejected any moves that would lead to a two-state solution with the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel. The government questioned the King’s prediction of war within 12 to 18 months if no progress was made towards peace. In reaction to King Abdullah’s comments, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said that the phrasing could be construed as a threat. “It means we are not engaged in a territorial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but between Israel and 57 nations. Put like that, it’s a conflict of a whole different order,” he said.
Israel also objected to the debate at the Security Council because, according to Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, the country doesn’t believe the involvement of the Security Council contributes to the political process in the Middle East. Other countries at the debate, however, have backed the plan. Susan Rice, Washington’s UN Ambassador, said, “We share a sense of urgency. This is a moment that should not be lost. That is why the United States and others are redoubling their efforts to achieve a lasting two-state solution.”
King Abdullah’s comments came a week before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington to meet with US President Obama. According to the king, if Israel does not move toward a two-state solution, or if there was no clear indication from the US on what would happen this year, the “tremendous credibility” that Obama has built up in the Arab world could evaporate overnight.
A project as ambitious as the proposed peace plan has not been attempted since 1991 in Madrid. A three day conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR, and was an early attempt by the international community to start a peace process between Israel and Palestine and other countries including Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.