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Jordanian Queen: Despair Must Not Prevail in Middle East Peace Process


Queen Rania of Jordan attends a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at United Nations headquarters, 22 Sep 2010

Queen Rania of Jordan attends a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at United Nations headquarters, 22 Sep 2010

Jordan's Queen Rania has made a plea for hope over cynicism in the Middle East peace process. The queen appeared on U.S. television in an interview taped during her visit to New York last week for the United Nations General Assembly.

Queen Rania says despite stalemates and setbacks in the decades-old quest for peace in the Middle East, there should be no defeatist attitudes among those pressing for a viable solution to the conflict.

"I know there is a lot of cynicism. And I know a lot of people do not believe it is going to happen [peace accord]. If it were easy, it would have happened by now," she said. "But it is important to emphasize why this peace process is important, why we must not let cynicism or pessimism dismiss the whole process."

The queen spoke on ABC's This Week program. She urged the Palestinian side to remain at the talks, despite uncertainty surrounding the expiration of Israel's 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank. She urged flexibility on both sides.

Queen Rania appeared to take issue with an oft-stated contention among Middle East observers: that the Israeli-Palestinian stand-off is fueling religious extremism in the region and beyond. She said extremist views would exist in the world even if the conflict did not exist.

Nevertheless, she noted that the conflict serves as a propaganda tool that extremists wield to push their ideals and agendas, often drowning out more moderate voices.

"We need to realize that when there is a population living under occupation, where there is no justice and they cannot send their children to school, and, on the other side, where Israelis feel they have to build a bubble, build a wall in order to exist safely because they live in such a hostile environment - that is an explosive situation that has repercussions not only for our region, but for the entire world," she said.

The Jordanian queen said U.S. President Barack Obama's popularity in the Muslim world, which polls show to be waning of late, would "skyrocket" if the current round of Middle East peace talks are a success.

She also defended a controversial proposed Islamic center in New York City as a vehicle for understanding and a tool to counteract extremist propaganda.

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