King Abdullah of Jordan is blunt in his assessment of the current state of affairs in the Middle East and is not optimistic about prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestninians:
Concerning reports that US President Barack Obama had his own peace plan in the works, Abdullah said that it was up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to do more of the groundwork. "If we stay at the status quo, others in the region are not sitting idly by. So the chance of conflict is always very high. War would be disastrous for the Israelis, for the Arabs, for all of us," he said.
Abdullah warned that despite the good intentions of many, there was a "very good chance" that war could break out in the region in the coming months. "If we hit the summer and there's no active process, there's a very good chance for conflict - and nobody wins when it comes to that," he said.
Asked about the direction in which Netanyahu is taking Israel, Abdullah replied that he'd become "extremely frustrated" with the current government's stance. "I believe Israel's future is to be integrated into the region. But if the powers that be look at Israel's future as Fortress Israel, that means bloodshed will continue for decades," he warned, referring to a state in which Israel chooses to be isolated and cut off from the rest of the region.
"In the Arab-Islamic peace proposal, it's not just opening trade offices, it's full diplomatic relations," Abdullah explained. "They're looking at Israel being integrated into the region, not just having embassies so that it looks good for the cameras, but having relations with the Arab and Islamic world. Fifty-seven nations is a third of the United Nations; that's a third of the United Nations that does not recognize Israel today," he said.
Abdullah has quietly worked behind the scenes to try and involve Syria in the peace mix as well as attempting to protect Lebanon from Syria's designs. He is not the bombastic sort so his warning about war should be taken very seriously.
This is a guy who, while holding a less than friendly view of Israel, nevertheless is a pragmatic and practical man who sees Israel being integrated into the economies of the Arab countries in the region. That may be a lot of wishful thinking at this point but it shows that at least one Arab leader is capable of envisioning a world in which Israel is a part.