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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Jordan
2 August 2006

Ending Israeli occupation only solution — King   Wednesday,02-Aug-2006 
Amman, 2/8/2006, (Communication & Information Division - Royal Hashemite Court) -- His Majesty King Abdullah said on Wednesday that the only way to achieve regional peace was ending the Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

The King said the Lebanese resistance group has gained popularity in the Arab world because it stood against Israeli aggression, and emphasized that even if Israel destroys it, other Hizbollah groups would emerge elsewhere in the region unless Arab rights are restored.

In an interview with Al Rai and Al Ghad Arabic dailies, the King noted that Israel's policies have weakened the voice of moderation and contributed to the rise of extremism in the region.

“Israel must realize that even if Hizbollah is destroyed, and still there is no peaceful solutions to the Palestinian cause, and [Israel's problems with] Lebanon and Syria, another Hizbollah would emerge in a year or two in another country; maybe in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, or Iraq,” the King said.

“Achieving peace through ending occupation of Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state is the only solution,” he said, adding that there will be no solution in Lebanon without an agreement with the Lebanese government.

“And there will be no solution in Palestine without restoring Palestinian rights. We reject the Israeli prime minister's unilateral plans. We think the US knows that now, and the Israelis must realize it as well.”

The King said since peace negotiations in recent years did not achieve comprehensive objectives, “the need now arises to reevaluate the peace process and rebuild it on the basis of respect for international legitimacy resolutions”.

“The entire world must know that the Palestinian problem is the core issue in all that is happening, and without a just solution that guarantees the return of the land Israel occupied in 1967, the region will pay dearly and will never calm down,” King Abdullah warned.

“The problem lies in the need for the world to acknowledge that Palestinian territories were occupied and should be restored and that the Palestinian people have legitimate hopes and aspirations to establish an independent state. The entire world should work to ensure such a state is established. War will not solve anything.”

“The Arab peoples see Hizbollah as a hero because of its fight against aggression and they will support any efforts to ensure the return of their rights,” he said.

“This is a fact that the US and Israel have to realize: As long as there is aggression, there is resistance and there is popular support for this resistance,” the King said.

“The international community should shoulder its moral and political responsibilities and the US should acknowledge that war will not bring anything but more woes, violence and extremism.”

The King spoke about his contacts with the leaders of the US, France and Germany, in addition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. “I talked to US President George Bush and asked him, ‘What guilt have the innocents committed? Why should Beirut airport and Lebanon's infrastructure be bombarded?' I told Bush and French President [Jacques] Chirac that ‘protecting Lebanon is your responsibility.'” he said.

What they wanted, he continued, was a package of solutions that guarantee Israel's security and push back Hizbollah off the Israeli borders.

“But I think that the picture is different now. Those calling for a ceasefire are more heard now than before.” The King said, adding that the US has a big responsibility to shoulder in solving the crises in the Middle East.

“The Arab peoples believe that the Middle East will never enjoy security until the Palestinians enjoy stability, restore their rights and build their state. Addressing the root causes of the conflict is the sole means to solve them... if the US wants respect and appreciation in the Arab world, it should quickly move to find a just solution to the Arab-Israel conflict.”

‘Voice of moderation weakened'

King Abdullah said Israel's policies have contributed to the rise of extremism in the Arab world at the expense of moderation. The war in Lebanon has added to that, he said.

“Yes, the war has weakened the voice of moderation... From the very beginning, there was room for diplomatic solutions instead of this destruction and these catastrophes suffered by Lebanon, but nothing happened. Here we are facing a new war: Killings in Lebanon and killings in Palestine and despair in the entire region. People do want an end to the usurpation of rights and the occupation...Those who want the voice of reason to prevail in the region have to address the causes of the crises. Moderation should accomplish something for people to believe in it. Otherwise, people will have no choice but to reject the voice of moderation and embrace other means to defend their rights.”

The King said he understands people's rejection of moderation under the circumstances.

“I understand that, amid this fury, moderation will be weakened, especially that Arab moderate stands have not paid off, for reasons beyond our power. But we should not fall into despair and we will keep working and do all that we can to restore Arab rights.”

He warned that options are limited. “It is either a peace that restores rights, ends injustice and gives people hope, or a cycle of violence and hostility whose price will be paid by Israel, the US and the Arabs.”

‘We are angry'

King Abdullah said he shared people's anger.

“We are all angry. When I saw the crime of shelling Beirut's airport, I was shocked and furious. I directed officials to immediately make contacts to help rebuild it. I also gave directives to send Jordanian planes to Lebanon despite stumbling initial contacts. I told the chairman of the joint chiefs-of-staff: ‘Go to Lebanon, even if there was risk of targeting our plane'.”

“We watch the scenes of killing and destruction in Lebanon, a country that we consider a model of progress, democracy and openness in the region, and we feel enraged when we see such a barbaric war waged against it. No one would accept what is going on in Lebanon. These criminal acts are deplorable and totally unjustifiable.”

The King reiterated that the Israeli massacre of children and women in Qana was a heinous crime that breached all international conventions, and “the magnitude of Israel's aggression has exceeded every limit and must stop”.

He added that Jordan's voice was the strongest in condemning the war from the beginning.

“We have spared no effort in attempting to influence the US and to work with Europe and the Arabs to end this war instantly. Besides, we are coordinating with our Lebanese brothers on daily basis to help relieve their suffering. We shall not shirk our responsibilities towards our brothers and shall not stand aside just watching. Our contacts are continuous to bring an end to the crisis and contain its repercussions. The voice of reason must prevail in the end.”

On the possibility of recalling the Jordanian ambassador to Israel and expelling the Israeli envoy in Amman, the King said the peace treaty Jordan signed with Israel has served the interests of Jordan and the Palestinians, and could be useful for the Lebanese. He said Jordan will do its best to serve national interests and assist the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples.

The King referred to the humanitarian aid Jordan has dispatched to Lebanon, including nine planes laden with relief assistance, the facilitation of aid bound for Lebanon, provided by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other parties, including UN organizations, and the Jordanian field hospital set up in Beirut, which has so far dealt with 2,500 cases.

“Is that enough? No. But we are doing all that we can and will always do our utmost,” the King said, adding that Jordan will not take part in a proposed international force to be deployed in south Lebanon.

‘Marginalization' fears

The King, meanwhile, said Jordan was working with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt to crystallize an effective and influential Arab stand.

“[This is] because we fear marginalization of the Arab role and because we care about Arab blood and the Arab future,” he said.

King Abdullah stressed that Jordan is basically against “axis policies”.

However, he asked: “Should we be blamed that we meet and consult [with Arab leaders] to serve our nation and peoples? I have made contacts with several Arab leaders to emphasize that we need a unified stand to speak in one language. I said more than once that if the West, including the US, finds no Arab side to talk to, they would definitely find someone else, who would speak for the Arabs. Do we need others to speak on our behalf? Don't we need a united Arab stand that would earn us the respect of the world around us? What's most worrying is that things are getting out of the hands of the Arabs and, consequently, the situation becomes more complicated....”

King Abdullah warned that the absence of such a unified stand means betrayal of the Arab peoples.

“We shall all regret the state of loss, fragmentation and division that would plague the region. The enemies of the nation would find a fertile ground to trigger sedition and wage wars on our lands to make sure we remain weak and our decision-making and potentials easily controlled,” he said.

“I believe that a new chapter of Arab cooperation has started, with all of us bound by fear for our future.”

A joint Arab stand is necessary, regardless of any alarming regional alliances, he said.

The King ruled out a “sectarian war” between Arab countries and Iran, and urged all parties to stand up in the face of any one who tries to provoke religious conflicts.

“We care for our Shiite brothers and are keen on the unity of the Muslim nation. Any one who tries to sow the seeds of sedition between the Sunni and the Shiites is a criminal... I am the descendent of Al al Bayt and unity in the Islamic ranks is a message I advocate and defend.”

King Abdullah told the Arabic dailies that now there is no direct negative impact of the war in Lebanon on Jordan, but reiterated the call for radical solutions to the regional conflicts.

The entire situation in the region is not acceptable, he stressed.

Commenting on the idea of a “new Middle East” brought up by the US administration, he said that any plan that does not respond to the needs and aspirations of peoples and their right to self-determination will fail.

“The Palestinians should restore their rights and establish their state, security should prevail in Iraq and Lebanon, and international resolutions should be implemented.”

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