King Abdullah Optimistic on Solving Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Near Future

18 June 2002

His Majesty King Abdullah II has expressed optimism on reaching a solution to the Arab Israeli conflict in the near future due to the pressures being exercised by the international community including the UN, Russia, Europe and many other countries who all believe that such a solution is inevitable.

"I hope that a Middle East peace conference will be held at the ministerial level before the end of this year,"King Abdullah said in an interview with the French weekly "l'Expresse" published Tuesday.

The King said he made it clear to friendly countries that "what is worse has not been put behind us yet." "We will do this when we succeed in bringing together all the parties to the conflict around the table of negotiations," added King Abdullah stressing the need to take initial steps to specify the principles and the time table leading to the establishment of the Palestinian state.

Answering a question on changes in the U.S. position, King Abdullah said he has already suggested to the U.S. President the necessity to crystallize a U.S. concept on the Palestinian state that is viable and founded on international legitimacy and UN resolutions 242 and 338. The King affirmed that this the only chance for the Arabs and the Palestinians to accept moving forward to peace. Parallel to this the Arab will give security guarantees demanded by Israel, King Abdullah said.

"Unless a Palestinian state is established within the coming three or four years, a new cycle of violence will break out and we should not wait for another generation to fulfill what the two parties want," King Abdullah added.

As long as there is a crisis between the Palestinians and the Israelis and between the Arabs and the Israelis, they will all pay the price whether in security or economic terms, King Abdullah said. In addition, the danger of extremism and terrorism will be growing, the King added.

Unless we place this crisis on top of our priorities, it will impose itself as a priority, sooner or later, King Abdullah said.

In reply to a question on the future of the holy city of Jerusalem, King Abdullah said " We believe Jerusalem should remain an open city to three religion and specifically we see that the solution can be in dividing Jerusalem between the Palestinians and the Israelis and the old part of the city together with the holy places and Al Haram Al Sharif should remain as one unit because they stand as strong symbol and cradle for our civilization." " The more we are economically strong , the more will be able to move effectively," King Abdullah said. "Therefore, I asked French President Chirac to assist us in alleviating Jordan's debts. A stronger Jordan can contribute much better to peace making, the King noted.

On Parliamentary election, King Abdullah said he would take his decision next month. In principle, the elections will be held in the course of a year, he added.

A military strike on Iraq will have a devastating consequences not only on Iraq but on the entire Middle East, King Abdullah said.