Jordan’s king warned Monday that the failure to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was adding to regional tensions.
A statement from the royal palace said King Abdullah II told a delegation from the Washington-based American Israel Public Affairs Committee that regional changes tied to the Arab Spring should “drive” the Israeli government to “embrace peace.”
In his talks Monday with the pro-Israel group, the king also called on Israel to stop measures that he said hinder peace efforts, including West Bank settlement construction.
Abdullah urged Israel, the Palestinians and the US to resume peacemaking efforts. He called for direct talks based on a two-state solution, which envisions the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He said it remained the “only formula” to end the 65-year old conflict.
On Sunday, Abdullah said he would host Israeli and Palestinian peace delegates next month in hopes of getting negotiations back on track, Israel Radio reported, quoting the London-based Al-Hayat.
In a separate interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, the Jordanian monarch said that with US President Barack Obama’s inauguration coming up on January 21, and the Israeli elections the following day, he saw a “new opportunity to reach an agreement that we cannot afford to miss.”
He referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the “main cause of instability in the Middle East” and emphasized that its solution was a priority for Jordan.
Also on Sunday, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the European Union was formulating a new Israeli Palestinian peace plan to be presented in March.
According to the paper, the goal of the EU plan was to bring about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. The report said the EU intended to set a clear timetable for negotiations between the two sides in 2013.
Israeli sources said the EU would like to use the plan as the basis for a regional discussion, which would include the participation of Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states. Such a move would force Israel to join a pan-Middle East conference or risk being seen as an obstacle to peace, the report said.
“The Europeans cannot force an agreement on us, but they certainly have the ability to embarrass us,” a senior Israeli diplomat was quoted as saying. “They are formulating a policy of parameters that will set forth the principles of a future peace agreement, and they will put it on the table.”