Officials: Jordan to secure strategic interests in face of Palestinian-Israeli solution
Goats are seen grazing in a cultivated field near the village of Ein al-Beida in the eastern foothill of the Jordan Valley. This controversial piece of land is set to cause trouble at the peace talks negotiating table. (AFP)
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Senior officials have asserted that Jordan will not accept any solution to the Mideast conflict that would compromise its strategic interests.
The remarks, made by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Tuesday and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh the day before, came mostly in response to fears among political and media circles that Jordan might be caught off-guard if the two parties to the conflict reach a deal over final status issues, including the refugees, the fate of Jerusalem, borders, security and water.
During a meeting between the government and the second largest parliamentary bloc Watan (Homeland) on Tuesday, Ensour agreed with MPs that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s shuttle visits to the region are “for a purpose”.
The MPs expressed fears over what they described as “behind-the-doors” peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis that would lead to stripping Jordan of its right to be part of a final agreement particularly in connection to the refugees file.
The premier highlighted Jordan’s position towards such developments saying, “Kerry seeks to draft a framework agreement that would lead to a final solution to all issues.”
Jordan must be part of any final agreement particularly in connection to the Palestinian refugees issue, he said.
Ensour stressed that “all issues are on the table now”, and that “nothing is off limit” when it comes to talks over the final status issues, noting that this is “progress” in itself, although below expectations.
Regarding the Israeli demand to have the occupied Jordan Valley under its control in the case of a peace agreement, the premier said Jordan considers these lands and any other area that Israel occupied on 1967 as Palestinian lands. As for the Palestinian refugees, Ensour stressed that Jordan believes that all the refugees who came to Jordan during the period 1948-1949 have the right to return and are entitled to compensation whether they are holders of Jordanian nationality or not.
Judeh: Jordan is not absent
In an interview with Jordan Television’s Al Rai Al Thaleth (Third Opinion) talk show late Monday, Judeh stressed that Jordan is not absent from the peace negotiations and will not accept any solution that contradicts the country’s interests and national security.
He said Kerry’s visit to Jordan on Sunday was to brief His Majesty King Abdullah on the latest developments related to the ongoing peace negotiations.
He noted that the parties concerned with the negotiations, including US officials, Palestinians and Israelis are keen to keep Jordan updated with any progress in the talks.
Reasserting that Jordan will not negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians regarding their envisioned state’s border with Israel, the minister stressed, however, that Jordan will be concerned about its borders and the state that it will share a borderline with.
He also stressed that any “security-related arrangement” in the Jordan Valley must take into consideration the Kingdom’s national security.
Iraq and Syria
As for the fighting in Iraq and Al Qaeda-linked group’s control of some towns there and its impact on the Kingdom, Judeh stressed that Jordan is “on alert” in the field and at the political level.
On the Syrian issue, the minister reiterated that Jordan supports a political solution for the crisis and will attend Geneva II conference on January 22.
“Our participation in Geneva II is part of our mandate as the current president of the UN Security Council and a neighbouring country that is affected by crisis, including the Syrian refugee burden we have undertaken,” he told JTV.
Judeh also noted that all Middle East-related issues that are also of interest to Jordan will be discussed at the Security Council during a meeting slated for January 20.
By Khetam Malkawi and Khaled Neimat
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