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Middle East sliding `into the darkness`: Jordan king

Last Updated: Thursday, October 8, 2009 - 14:03

Jerusalem: The impasse in the Middle East peace process is sending the region back "into the darkness”, Jordan`s King Abdullah II said in an interview with an Israeli daily, parts of which were published on Thursday.

"We`re sliding back into the darkness," Abdullah told the left-leaning Haaretz, which is due to run the entire interview on Friday.

The monarch, who heads one of only two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, said that establishing a Palestinian state was key to a wider peace deal to end the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Is Israel going to be fortress Israel or is it going to be part of the neighbourhood? Because if there is no two-state solution, what future do we all have together.

"Show me the future of Israel 10 years from now. Where do you want Israel to be vis-à-vis its relationship with Jordan and other Arab countries?”

"I understand that you tend to live in the here and now. You are worried about the next threat. It is difficult for an Israeli to look into the future because of the security aspect. But if there is peace and stability, then people can look into the future."

Abdullah also warned Israel to stop settlement activity in east Jerusalem, which it captured in the 1967 Six Day War and has since annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

Jerusalem is "a tinderbox that will have a major flashpoint throughout the Islamic world," he said.

"It is important to understand the need of ending all settlement activities and other unilateral actions that threaten the identity of the Holy City."

Israel considers Jerusalem as its "eternal, indivisible" capital, but the Palestinians want to make the eastern part of the city the capital of their promised state.

The past several weeks have seen sporadic clashes break out between Palestinian youths and Israeli police as tensions simmer over access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City, a flashpoint site holy to Muslims and Jews.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 8, 2009 - 14:03

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