Jordan king tells Trump team a Palestinian state the only way to peace
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Jordan king tells Trump team a Palestinian state the only way to peace

Abdullah II reiterates support for two-state solution as White House advisers tour region to drum up support for Bahrain peace summit

Jordan's King Abdullah II (center) meets White House adviser Jared Kushner (4th from left) and US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, (3rd from left) in Amman on May 29, 2019. (Petra News)
Jordan's King Abdullah II (center) meets White House adviser Jared Kushner (4th from left) and US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, (3rd from left) in Amman on May 29, 2019. (Petra News)

Jordan on Wednesday reiterated its backing for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, exposing an apparent rift with the United States as the Trump administration tries to rally Arab support for a peace conference next month in Bahrain.

Presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman. The official Petra news agency said the two parties “discussed regional developments, especially efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

The king restated his commitment to the two-state solution, with the formation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, a position that appears to be at odds with US President Donald Trump’s still undisclosed “deal of the century.”

Abdullah insisted on the “need to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace based on the two-state solution that would guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Jordan, a key US ally, has not yet said whether it will attend the June 25-26 meeting in Manama, capital of the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain. The Palestinians have said they will not attend the summit, rejecting it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.

Kushner, who arrived in the Jordanian capital Amman from Morocco, has said the Bahrain conference will focus on the economic foundations of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The conference will not include core political issues, such as Palestinian statehood.

Greenblatt and Kushner met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Tuesday and discussed Morocco’s support for the peace conference. Moroccan officials declined commenting on Kushner’s visit.

The US envoys are scheduled to travel to Israel next.

Reliant on American political and military support, it will be difficult for Jordan to reject the invitation. But with most of its people of Palestinian descent and the kingdom bordering the West Bank, it will be difficult to embrace a plan that does not include a Palestinian state.

Any perception that Jordan is selling out the interests of the Palestinians would be deeply unpopular and possibly even destabilizing.

The White House has billed the Bahrain conference as “a pivotal opportunity… to share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”

But Palestinian political leaders say they will boycott it and Palestinian business leaders said they won’t go either, raising further questions about the plan’s viability.

For now, the Americans are pinning their hopes on wealthy Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, hoping their regional influence and deep pockets can make the conference a success.

The Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, along with host Bahrain, have accepted invitations to attend. This has fueled Palestinian jitters that they will come under heavy pressure to accept large sums of money in exchange for freezing or abandoning aspirations for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

In accepting the invitation to the Bahrain conference, Gulf countries have been careful to express solidarity with the Palestinians but have also signaled flexibility.

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, right, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on June 22, 2018. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem/Flash90)

From Jordan, Kushner and Greenblatt are expected to travel to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, a day after a deadline expires for Netanyahu to announce his new coalition — a prospect that is currently in doubt amid intense last-ditch efforts to avert snap polls and reconcile conflicting demands by the premier’s allies.

Netanyahu has yet to ink a deal with any of his prospective partners, and progress has stalled amid an impasse between the secular Yisrael Beytenu party and ultra-Orthodox parties on the question of a bill regulating the military draft among the ultra-Orthodox.

The prime minister has until Wednesday midnight to secure a coalition, and has said that barring a deal, he will trigger new Knesset elections, months after the April 9 vote.

The Trump administration purposefully set its peace plan launch for after coalition negotiations, when Israel has a functioning government, and it isn’t clear if the date will change if Israel goes to the polls again.

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