King Abdullah: Israelis must choose between 'fortress mentality' or peace

By The Associated Press

Haaretz

Adar 12, 5767

AMMAN - Jordan's King Abdullah II said Friday that Israel must choose between the mentality of Israel as a fortress, or living in peace and security with its neighbors.

Interviewed on state television before his departure for the United States, the king said the United States was the country most capable of influencing Israel.

"It is time that the [U.S.] employ this influence to prove its transparency to the people of the region, and that it is not biased, Abdullah said.

The king, who has long urged America to make a greater effort on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, is likely to make the same point when he addresses the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.

"The Middle East faces two choices - either the choice of peace or the choice of chaos, violence and destruction," the king told Jordanian television, to which he rarely gives interviews.

He said that a solution to the Palestinian problem would spare the region disaster and chaos. Referring to the United States, he said: "It is our duty to push this great state, and others, to take balanced positions and support the peace process."

Abdullah said that he realized that Washington was preoccupied with Iraq, and said Jordan too wanted to see reconciliation and stability in Iraq.

But, the king added, "the principle problem in the region is the Palestinian issue and, if it is not solved, it will be impossible to solve the other problems."

On Jordanian affairs, Abdullah sought to assure Jordanians that the legislative and municipal elections due later this year would be held on time.

There have been reports that the polls would be delayed.

In Washington, the king is expected to hold talks with President George W. Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.