Arabs would give Israel security guarantees under peace deal, Jordanian FM says
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Arabs would give Israel security guarantees under peace deal, Jordanian FM says

Ayman Safadi tells Russian counterpart Amman ‘considers Palestinian problem as a core of tensions in our region’

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi attends an  Arab Summit meeting at the Dead Sea, Jordan, on March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi attends an Arab Summit meeting at the Dead Sea, Jordan, on March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

Jordan’s Foreign Minister said Saturday that Arab countries would give Israel security guarantees under any peace deal with the Palestinians in which Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Russia’s state-sponsored Sputnik news agency reported.

During a meeting between Ayman Safadi and Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, the Jordanian minister said that “in order for Israel to live in peace with the Arabs, it is necessary for them to leave the territories occupied after 1967. So if this happens, the Arab countries will be ready to give security guarantees to Israel.”

There were no details on what such guarantees might entail.

Safadi spoke of the necessity to “open a new political horizon” for peace in the region.

“We consider the settlement of the Palestinian problem as a core of tensions in our region. That is why we definitely plan to create additional conditions for security and stability in our region and in the whole world,” he said.

Safadi has said in the past that a peace deal would lead to “historic reconciliation between Israel and the whole Arab world.”

During their annual summit in March, Arab League leaders renewed the 2002 Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative, which offers recognition of Israel by dozens of Arab and Muslim nations in exchange for allowing the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Israel has balked, among other things, at the envisioned scope of withdrawal from the lands it captured in the 1967 Six Day War and unsuccessfully sought to renegotiate the initial proposal.

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office at the White House as First Lady Melania Trump and Queen Rania look on in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM)
US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office at the White House as First Lady Melania Trump and Queen Rania look on in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2017. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is believed to have presented US President Donald Trump with the Arab position when the two leaders met in Washington earlier this month.

Jordan argues that the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains at the root of regional turmoil and that, if allowed to fester, it will undercut the Trump administration’s Mideast goals of containing Iran and defeating Islamic State extremists.

Trump’s international envoy, Jason Greenblatt, told Arab leaders on the sidelines of the March summit in Jordan that the US president has a personal interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian deal and that he believes it is doable.

Trump hasn’t said what kind of agreement he seeks, but appears to have shied away from initial suggestions that he could envision alternatives to the globally backed two-state solution that has been supported by previous US presidents.

For now, Trump envoys are trying to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to curb settlement construction and ease economic restrictions on Palestinians — a traditional US move when trying to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Greenblatt also won praise from Palestinian officials, who say he was surprisingly open to their concerns during his recent “listening tour” in the region.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was set to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Saturday to coordinate positions on the peace process ahead of his first meeting with Trump in Washington next week. Trump hosted Netanyahu in February, and is set to visit Israel in late May.

US President Donald Trump, right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
US President Donald Trump, right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

According to Palestinian and Israeli news websites, Abbas and Sissi will also discuss the PA’s deteriorating relations with the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas will visit the White House on May 3 for a series of high-level meetings with the president and other senior administration officials on finding a way to try to revive the peace process.

Jordanian and US interests appear to converge, with both seeking to step up the anti-IS campaign.

AP contributed to this report.

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