Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Syrian refugees have overwhelmed his nation and now amount to one-tenth the size of his country’s population. Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, he said that could grow to 20 percent next year and called on the international community to accelerate political transition in Syria.
“It is time to fast-track a political transition in Syria: to end the violence and bloodshed, neutralize the threat of chemical weapons, restore security and stability, preserve the unity of Syria and its territorial integrity, and engage all, all, its people in building their country’s future.
Syria’s future will depend on the Syrian people. But the world has the duty, the interest, and the power to help. And help must be soon,” he said.
Still, Abdullah called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the Mideast’s “core crisis” and said it “feeds the flames of extremism around the world… It is time to put this fire out,” he said.
Abdullah said global security would “long be shaped by what is happening right now in the Middle East. Our region can be, must be, a House of Peace and Prosperity… But no house can be built when its city is burning. And today, the region’s fires cannot be ignored. All the world is in their path. To protect the future, our world must respond.”
He called the Syrian crisis “a global humanitarian and security disaster,” and warned, “Escalating violence threatens to hollow-out the rest of that country’s economic and political future. Extremists have rushed to promote and exploit ethnic and religious divisions. Such a dynamic could crush regional renaissance and put global security at risk. We have a duty to reject these destructive forces.”
The modern Islamic state, scholars agree, “should be a civic state, founded on institutions, and with an inclusive constitution based on the rule of law, justice, and freedom of opinion and faith. The modern Islamic state should uphold equality, across the ethnic and religious spectrum,” he said.
Abdullah pledged that Jordan would “continue to do our utmost to protect our Arab Christian communities and minorities. And we call on all countries to join us in our stand for diversity, tolerance and mutual respect.”
He then urged the international community to work together for “a speedy resolution of the region’s core crisis. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict consumes resources that are needed to build a better future, and feeds the flames of extremism around the world. It is time to put this fire out.”
He commended “the president of Palestine and the prime minister of Israel for the bold decision to resume final status negotiations. We urge them to stay committed to reaching an agreement within the set time frame. Let there be no actions that can derail what is still a fragile process. This means no continued settlement construction, and no unilateral actions that threaten the status quo in East Jerusalem and its Muslim and Christian holy sites.”
The goal, which can be reached, he aid, is “a just and final two-state settlement, based on international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative. For Israel: Real security, and normal relations with 57 Arab and Muslim countries. For the Palestinian people, at long last, the rights they deserve, in a viable and independent Palestinian State, on Palestinian national soil, based on the 1967 lines, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.”