Jordan Defends Ties with Israel
Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said his country's diplomatic ties with Israel help serve Palestinian interests, Al Dustour newspaper reported Monday.
Abu Ragheb was commenting on Jordan's peace treaty with Israel on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) underway in Qatar, amid calls for Muslim countries to reduce ties with the Jewish state.
Asked by Al Dustour to compare between Qatar's decision to cut commercial links with Israel and Jordan's relations with the Jewish state, Abu Ragheb said: "The two situations are different.
"We signed a (peace) treaty with Israel and the existence of relations plays a role, as in Egypt's case, that serves the interests of our brothers in Palestine," the Jordanian prime minister said.
Abu Ragheb reiterated Jordan's full support for the Palestinian cause and the establishment of a Palestinian independent state with Arab east Jerusalem as its capital.
Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and Jordan became the only other Arab country to follow suit in 1994.
Following the outbreak of violence in the Palestinian territories in September, Jordan has delayed indefinitely the dispatch of a new ambassador to Tel Aviv.
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on Sunday urged OIC member states "to reduce to a minimum their relations with Israel and to freeze them completely."
OIC states should "link all contact with the Jewish state to concrete progress in the peace process, not only on the Palestinian track but on all the tracks," he said, referring to Israel's frozen peace talks with Syria and Lebanon.
The crown prince had threatened to boycott the Doha summit until Qatar bowed to pressure from both Riyadh and Tehran to close down the Israeli trade mission at the 11th hour.
Jordan's King Abdullah II was expected to address the summit on Monday.
On Sunday he joined Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in calling for international observers to be sent into the Palestinian territories -- AMMAN (AFP)
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