AMMAN (AFP) – The United States is expected to announce soon a new plan to kick-start the deadlocked Middle East peace talks, Jordan’s King Abdullah II told AFP in an interview on Saturday.
“We expect an announcement from the US administration… of its plan to restart negotiations to achieve a comprehensive solution,” in the Middle East, the king said.
“A resolution to the conflict is an American strategic interest,” he said.
“And we hope that it (Washington) will announce this plan as soon as possible, because lost time undermines the chances for peace. There is a tremendous need to move quickly, seriously and effectively.”
The king, a key US ally, gave no details on the expected plan, but he warned that in the absence of any resolution “the possibilities of a new round of violence, a new war, will increase and the region and the world will pay the price.”
“We believe that progress towards a solution requires a leading American role and European, Arab and international support.”
US officials in Washington also declined to elaborate on any new peace bid. “At this point were not going to describe if there is a specific plan on the table authored by us or anybody else,” one of them said.
King Abdullah urged US President Barack Obama last month in Washington to back Palestinian statehood in “words as well as deeds,” and pressed Israel to choose between integration or isolation in the Middle East.
He said Obama “understands the urgency of the situation today, and understands that procrastination threatens the security of the region and the world.”
“President Obama has announced his commitment to the two-state solution within a comprehensive approach to achieve comprehensive peace,” he added.
Obama is expected to lay out the framework of the plan when he visits Cairo for a major speech to the Muslim world next month.
Expectations in the Arab world are that the speech will present the outlines of a peace plan, including the recognition of Israel by 57 states.
“Fifty seven states do not recognise Israel, that’s a third of UN member-states. The reason is the continuation of the occupation and the absence of a peace settlement,” the king said.
He said Israel has to make choices.
“Does it (Israel) want to be a fortress, isolated from the region, or does it want to co-exist with its neighbours and with all the countries that do not recognise it and achieve acceptance and real security?” King Abdullah said.
Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states that have made peace with Israel.
Obama, who has vowed to push ahead with peacemaking, holds talks Monday with hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and hosts later this month Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The king met with Netanyahu on Thursday in Amman and pressed him to accept the two-state deal, which the Israeli premier has so far refused to publicly endorse.
Israeli MP Ophir Akunis, who is close to Netanyahu, said on Saturday that the premier will refuse on his trip to Washington to back the formation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu “will not make a commitment to Washington on the creation of a Palestinian state which would undoubtedly become a ‘Hamastan’,” Akunis said according to public radio, referring to the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza.
The king also described a 2002 Saudi-inspired Arab peace initiative as a “historic opportunity to achieve peace” across the Middle East in line with Israel’s “withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands.”
Firebrand Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has branded the Arab peace bid as “dangerous” because it would require the Jewish state to allow Palestinian refugees to return within its borders.
“There is no change to the Arab Peace Initiative, and there is no need to amend it. Any talk about amending it, is baseless,” the king said.