Occupation and peace cannot co-exist, says King Abdullah of Jordan

Jordan is ready to play part in relaunching peace negotiations with Palestinian leadership, monarch says

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has warned that continued unilateral actions will kill any chance for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, adding that Amman was ready to help relaunch peace talks.

“Occupation and peace simply cannot co-exist,” he said during a virtual address to the Brookings Institute in Washington DC on Thursday.

“The Palestinian people have a right to an independent, viable, and sovereign state on June 4, 1967 lines, to live alongside Israel in peace and security.

“There is no alternative to the two-state solution and continued unilateral steps will only kill the prospects of peace.”

Last summer, Israel appeared ready to unilaterally annex parts of the occupied West Bank, including settlements around East Jerusalem. Those plans were reportedly delayed as part of Israel’s normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.

However, Israel continues to pursue a longstanding policy of surrounding East Jerusalem with settlements that over time have cut the city off from large parts of the occupied West Bank, and fragmented the remaining territory.

“Occupation, injustice, despair and apartheid. History has shown us, there are no winners in this formula. Only losers and tragedy,” King Abdullah said.

The UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan signed US-brokered agreements to normalize ties with Israel during the final months of the administration of President Donald Trump. 

The agreements, known as the “Abraham Accords”, shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalization with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians. 

The Palestinian leadership has expressed anger over the deals, which it sees as a betrayal of Palestinian goals for statehood. 

King Abdullah added that Washington was “essential” in restarting peace talks between the two sides.

Since entering office, President Joe Biden’s administration has said it planned to re-open Palestinian diplomatic missions that were shuttered under Trump, and to restore US aid to Palestinian agencies, ushering in hopes for renewed peace talks.

In his first news conference, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the recent normalization deals could not replace peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

“We hope that as Israel and other countries in the region join together in a common effort to build bridges and create new avenues for dialogue and exchange, these efforts contribute to tangible progress towards the goal of advancing a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

Earlier this month, the US deputy assistant secretary for Israel and Palestine, Hady Amr, spoke by phone with the Palestinian leadership, including Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh. 

Still, Biden has repeatedly said that his administration had no plans to move the US embassy from Jerusalem, or to revoke Washington’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.