King condemns attacks on Lebanese army

Moving Palestinian issue in right direction gives world flexibility to tackle other Mideast problems, Monarch tells BBC

AMMAN (JT) — King Abdullah on Monday condemned the attacks on the Lebanese army by an armed group in northern Lebanon during the past two days, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

King Abdullah told Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora over the telephone that it is important to protect the security and stability of Lebanon.

“It’s important to support the [Lebanese] government, the army and security forces to impose control over all parts of Lebanon,” Petra quoted the King as saying.

Siniora, for his part, briefed the King on efforts to contain the crisis “with the minimum of losses”.

He thanked the King for his efforts to enhance Lebanese security and stability.

The international community on Monday strongly condemned renewed fighting in Lebanon, with warnings of a humanitarian crisis and calls by some for the group to be disarmed.

Lebanese troops pounded gunmen in a Palestinian refugee camp on Monday, the second day of the bloodiest internal fighting since the 1975-90 civil war that has now killed at least 58 people and raised deep concerns about Lebanon’s fragile security, Agence France-Presse said.

‘We have to keep trying’

Meanwhile, the King said in a BBC interview aired yesterday that moving the Palestinian issue in the right direction would give the international community more flexibility to deal with other Middle East problems.

“If we can move that in the positive direction, it allows us much more flexibility in dealing with the others,” the Monarch told the BBC on the sidelines of the three-day World Economic Forum on the Middle East, which concluded on Sunday.

“I keep saying that Israeli-Palestinian issue is the core issue in the Middle East, the central issue at the heart of all Arabs and Muslims.”

The King asked: “If we don’t have a Palestinian state, can we ever have peace between the Arabs and the Israelis?” He said efforts should focus now on launching the peace process.

“As difficult and as dark it gets, we have to keep trying, and this is what we’re saying, specifically on the Palestinian issue,” the King said. “We see a spike of tension and crises, and I think that’s why everybody’s scrambling to restore calm as quickly as possible… there are voices of reason out there, and I’m hoping that they’re beginning to pick up momentum.”

The Monarch inaugurated the WEF on Friday, urging around 1,000 politicians, economists, media leaders, intellectuals and other prominent figures from around 50 countries to help end violence in the Middle East and be ready for the “day after peace”.

“This is our year of opportunity. Opportunity to end violence, opportunity to make peace, opportunity to build the regional economic powerhouse of tomorrow,” the King said in his opening remarks.

“There is a historic opportunity to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement, and achieve it now, this year, before any more generations suffer, before any more destruction takes place.”

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