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Jordan's King Expresses Pessimism over Mideast Peace

Jordan's King Abdullah II expressed pessimism about the prospects of Middle East peace in an interview published Thursday, speaking openly about a "one-state solution" to the conflict.

"2011 will be, I think, a very bad year for peace," Abdullah told The Washington Post in an interview at his palace in the Jordanian capital.

"Although we will continue to try to bring both sides to the table, I am the most pessimistic I have been in 11 years."

He expressed concern that the United States is distracted by its sputtering economy and weary of expending precious capital on the intractable issue.

The monarch, a key U.S. ally, painted an increasingly dim outlook, warning that violence and chaos are all but inevitable after the failure of U.S. and international efforts to revive the long-stalled peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"If it's not a two-state solution, then it's a one-state solution," he said. "And then, is it going to be apartheid, or is it going to be democracy?

The Palestinians are seeking an independent state based on the borders that preceded the Six-Day War of 1967, including the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and mostly Arab east Jerusalem, which has been annexed by Israel.

The Palestinian leadership also plans to make an appeal for U.N. recognition and membership in September.

Abdullah, who met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington last month, said the popular uprisings roiling across the Middle East and North Africa presented a unique opportunity for a possible peace deal, but that both sides have failed to seize it.

He said that as the revolts progress, Israel will be surrounded by more hostile Arab governments than ever before. And if the Israelis grant the Palestinians full rights, they will soon be outnumbered by the fast-growing Arab populations. If not, the monarch said they could see more unrest.

"When there's a status quo, usually what shakes everybody up is some sort of military confrontation, at which point we all come running and screaming to pick up the pieces," Abdullah said.

He warned more Palestinian clashes were likely, adding: "A lot of Arabs are saying, 'Okay, if you're talking about democracy for us, what about democracy (in) Israel?'"

Abdullah expressed concern about the United States losing its credibility as an honest broker after repeated failures to clinch a deal and a long record of fierce support for Israel regardless of the Jewish state's policies toward the Palestinians and Arab states.

"When you get billions in aid and your weapons resupplied and your ammunition stock resupplied, you don't learn the lesson that war is bad and nobody wins," he added, referring to the large U.S. military and economic aid package to Israel.

Source: Agence France Presse


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