Jordan’s Abdullah: Israel imposing an ‘unthinkable situation’ on Palestinians

In a speech at the European Union Parliament on the tensions across the Middle East, monarch accuses Jewish state of ‘turning its back on its neighborhood’

Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament, on January 15, 2020, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Frederick Florin/AFP)
Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament, on January 15, 2020, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Frederick Florin/AFP)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Wednesday that Israel has been trying to “impose an unthinkable solution” on the Palestinians, lamenting that hopes were fading for the two-state solution backed by the international community.

In a speech in front of the European Union Parliament on the tensions boiling across the Middle East, the Jordanian monarch said Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank and “disregard of international law” could be summed up as “one state turning its back on its neighborhood, perpetuating divisions among peoples and faiths worldwide.”

Abdullah accused the Israeli government of being “propped up by structural inequalities with Palestinians as second class citizens.”

He went on to assert that a one-state solution to the conflict would lead to perpetual violence that would destabilize the entire region. “I will say it again and again: A more peaceful world is not possible without a stable Middle East and a stable Middle East is not possible without peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said to applause.

“What if Jerusalem, a city that is close to my heart personally and of great historic significance, remains disputed? Can we afford to rob Christians and Muslims alike of the spirituality, peace and coexistence that this city symbolizes and instead allow it to descend into political conflict?” asked Abdullah, who carries the hereditary title of “custodian” of holy Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.

While security ties between Israel and Jordan have flourished, political relations have soured recently over a number of matters including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge in September to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, if he is given another term in office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, during the former’s surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014 (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace)

In an interview published on Monday, Abdullah said that the Hashemite Kingdom’s relationship with Israel “has been on pause for the past two years,” expressing hope that Israelis would succeed in electing a lasting government in March to increase stability in the region.

“We understand, unfortunately, that the issue of elections that have being going on for over a year means that Israel is looking inwards as it’s dealing with its domestic issues, and as a result our relationship is on pause,” the monarch told TV channel France 24 in an English-language interview.

“Because of the electioneering season, which has unfortunately taken a long time, there have been no bilateral communications or movement,” he said. “We hope that the Israeli people will decide on a government sooner rather than later, and then we could all see how to move forward.”

Recent months have seen Amman recall its ambassador to Israel, no joint ceremony marking the quarter-century anniversary of the peace agreement between the two countries, and the termination of special arrangements that allowed Israeli farmers to easily access plots of land inside Jordan.

Amman also briefly recalled its ambassador to protest the arrests of two Jordanian nationals, who were eventually released by Israel.

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have formal peace treaties and diplomatic relations with Israel.

War with Iran will bring ‘chaos’

Separately in his EU Parliament address Wednesday, Abdullah claimed that a war between the US and Iran would wreak “untold chaos” on the world.

Although Washington and Tehran are currently in a standoff after tit-for-tat military actions over the past two weeks, the king told the European Parliament that the danger has not passed.

Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a speech at the European Parliament, on January 15, 2020, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Frederick FLORIN / AFP)

“What if next time neither side steps back from the brink, dragging us all towards untold chaos? An all-out war jeopardizes the stability of the entire region,” he said.

“What’s more, it risks massive disruptions of the entire global economy including markets, but threatens a resurgence of terrorism across the world.”

The alarm was among a raft of other warnings by King Abdullah, a pro-Western leader whose country is a haven of relative stability in a Middle East roiled by proxy conflicts, sectarian violence and competition between powers inside and outside the region.

Urging greater leadership and “patience” to address the tensions, Abdullah also expressed concern about developments in Syria and Iraq.

“What if Syria remains hostage to global rivalries and spirals back into civil conflict? What if we see a reemergence of ISIS and Syria becomes a staging ground for attacks against the rest of the world?” he asked.

Turmoil in Iraq, he said, risked tipping that country into a cycle of “recovery and relapse — or, worse yet, conflict.”

He also homed in on Libya, one of the biggest foreign policy issues facing the EU along with Iran.

“What if Libya collapses into an all-out war, and ultimately a failed state? What if Libya is the new Syria, just much closer to the continent you all call home?” he asked, saying such scenarios needed to be addressed now to prevent them becoming reality.

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