King Abdullah of Jordan: ‘We have to keep our fingers crossed’ on peace talks


On Tuesday, following a meeting with President Barack Obama, King Abdullah II of Jordan expressed optimism about revitalizing direct peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"Although this is still in the early stages, we have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that we can bring the Israelis and Palestinians out of the impasse," King Abdullah said according to a transcript of the discussion with the president and reporters in the Oval Office.

President Obama emphasized that it was imperative to have the parties "come back to the table and negotiate in a serious fashion a peaceful way forward."

This month, Jordan brought together Israeli and Palestinian negotiators for a series of meetings in hopes of restarting official talks before a Palestinian-imposed deadline on Jan. 26.

Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told me that the peace process does not appear to be a major priority for the King, regardless of his comments and actions.

"I believe that the peace process with Israel is fairly low down on the King’s list of priorities. He knows full well that the Palestinians have been downplaying the relevance of these talks, and that they have put an expiration date on them," Schanzer said.

Schanzer highlighted that "more pressing for the King is the internal pressure he has been feeling from the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Jordan. The group has been pressing the monarch for real change in the Kingdom, prompting the King to sack two governments in 2011. The IAF is still not satisfied."

President Obama commended King Abdullah for his actions to institute political reform, which have been "ahead of the curve in trying to respond to the legitimate concerns and aspirations, both politically and economically, of the Jordanian population."

In addition, the two leaders discussed the issue of Syria and President Obama praised King Abdullah for his role in calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down from power.

President Obama underlined that the U.S. would "continue to consult very closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and environment that encourages the current Syrian regime to step aside so that a more democratic process and transition can take place inside of Syria."

Recommended from JTA