King holds talks with Abbas, urges ‘clear timeline’ for peace talks

King Abdullah on Sunday called for a “clear timeline” for resuming Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, a Royal Court statement said.At a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the King said today’s four-way Middle East summit in Sharm El Sheikh “must be seized as an opportunity to formulate a clear timeline for a return to negotiations”.

The Monarch and Abbas also discussed preparations for the summit, during which they will meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“The summit will discuss ways to support the Palestinian people, especially by lifting the siege on the Palestinians and the resumption of negotiations,” according to the statement.

King Abdullah called Olmert yesterday and stressed the need to begin  final status negotiations, leading to an end to occupation to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, “both are seen by Jordan as a one integrated entity”.

Abbas was to travel to Egypt for further preparatory talks with Mubarak, Agence France-Presse reported.

The King yesterday expressed Jordan’s full support for the Palestinian Authority as the “legitimate representative of the Palestinians as well as for the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to lift the siege on the Palestinian people, build national Palestinian institutions and move the peace process forward”.

The Monarch said “events in the Gaza Strip had dealt a significant blow to Palestinian unity”.

“The Palestinian people have reached a critical juncture in their history,” he added.

Calling on the Palestinians to restore order and unity, the King said Jordan “opposes the division of Palestinian society”.

“The Palestinian national interest must supersede all other considerations in decision making in order to overcome the repercussions that threaten the Palestinian cause.”

He urged the Arab and international communities to support the Palestinian people “in every possible way and to intensify their efforts to advance the peace process towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

The King said the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip “was and continues to be a priority shared by both Jordanians and Palestinians”.

He said Jordan will continue to back the Palestinian people’s “aspirations for freedom and independence”.

Abbas, on his part, briefed the King on developments in the Palestinian territories following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip.

“He expressed appreciation for Jordan’s support for Palestinians, including a recent urgent aid shipment to Gaza to alleviate hardships caused by major shortages in basic commodities,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, quoted officials as saying  “King Abdullah will demand Olmert honour Israel’s commitments to pushing the peace process and begin political negotiations on final status issues.”

They said Israel’s decision to approve the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Abbas’ new government was “not enough”.

“What needed is the launch of a genuine peace process that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” the official said.

“Israel’s reluctance to accept the Arab Peace Initiative and not honouring peace commitments in line with the roadmap will boost hardliners in the region.”

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