Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Jordan News Agency (Petra)
12 January 2003
(Translated from Arabic)

His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday warned of complications in the Palestinian situation if a war breaks out in Iraq. King Abdullah told the Jordan News Agency, Petra, in an interview that the war would have grave repercussions in two ways. "The first one is the Palestinian cause which is witnessing very complicated conditions. If a war breaks out it would further complicate it," His Majesty said.

Jordan has categorically and repeatedly rejected reported Israeli plans to take advantage of the potential war on Iraq to make such moves like mass transfer of Palestinians to the Kingdom.

The second problem of the expected strike has to do with the post-war situation. "No one can predict of the tragedy a war will create for the Iraqi people and the entire region," the King said.

King Abdullah said he was satisfied with preparation by authorities to face any scenario of a possible war.

However, the King reiterated that Jordan sees a solution to the crisis through UN efforts and Iraq's full compliance with relevant international resolutions.

On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, King Abdullah highlighted the continuously deteriorating living conditions in the Palestinian lands and continuous Israeli practices against them, including "collective punishment of the Palestinian people."

"Regrettably, whenever there is a slim hope for some form of negotiations, things go wrong and we are back to square one," the King told the agency.

King Abdullah called for the quick implementation of the "roadmap" to Middle East peace that was drawn up by officials from Russia, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States, for a settlement of the crisis. He said this is the only way for the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples to bring an end to "this state of despair, frustration, violence and destruction."

The implementation of the "roadmap" was delayed due to Israel's upcoming elections.

Domestically, King Abdullah called on Jordanian men and women and civil society institutions to take part in a national dialogue to draw up the future of Jordan. He urged citizens to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections, which he said should take place by June of this year.

"The date of elections is important, but it is equally important that voters clearly express what they require from their future deputies... a responsible voter would be expecting a full-fledged programmeme that meets the requirements of socio-economic and political development in the country."

The King said he would like to see three or four active political parties in the country instead of the present 30, but said he would rather leave such an issue to dialogue.

The "Jordan First" document produced by a royal commission could serve as "a basis for such a dialogue," he said.

King Abdullah reiterated that "Jordan First" is not "a political slogan as some have pictured it," but rather "a call for equality, justice, equal opportunity and socio-economic and political development," which does not contradict with the status of Jordan as part of the Arab nation.

"We are fulfilling our responsibilities towards our [Palestinian and Iraqi] brethren and we are defending pan-Arab issues with all we have."

"A stronger Jordan is more able to help itself and then its nation," King Abdullah stressed.