King Abdullah II of Jordan announced that Jordan would host Israeli-Palestinian meetings in February with the backing of the European Union and the United States, a leading Arab daily reported on Wednesday.
US President Barack Obama would become increasingly involved in foreign policy and the Middle East peace process during his second term in office, the king reportedly said.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev refused to comment on the report, and a Palestinian government spokesman was not available for comment.
According to the London-based daily Al-Hayat, the king also sharply criticized Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, accusing him of marginalizing Jordan’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and harming the Hashemite Kingdom economically.
The king is visiting the United Kingdom, where on Tuesday he met with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Al-Hayat reported that during a gathering at the home of former Jordanian deputy prime minister Raja’i Muashar on Monday, King Abdullah launched a direct attack on Morsi.
According to the report, the king accused the Egyptian leadership of “marginalizing the Jordanian role in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to stop the latest aggression on the Gaza Strip.”
Jordan has suffered significant economic damage as a result of repeated explosions in a natural gas pipeline from Egypt, Abdullah added, estimating a loss of 5 billion Jordanian dinars ($7 billion) to the kingdom’s treasury.
“This [Morsi’s attitude] is the real reason for the economic crisis our country is going through,” the king said, according to Al-Hayat. His unusual comments on Egypt were not reported by Jordan’s official Petra news agency.
With regard to Syria, King Abdullah said that President Bashar Assad is militarily capable of remaining in power for two years longer, but can only survive economically for four more months.
Last week the king visited Ramallah in a public show of support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, following the recognition of Palestine as a nonmember state at the UN.
Cameron and Abdullah also discussed possible ways of extraditing extremist Jordanian cleric Abu-Qatada to Jordan, following his release from a British prison in November. Abu-Qatada was sentenced by Jordan to life imprisonment with hard labor in 1999 for conspiring to carry out terror activities in the country.