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Jordan Urges Palestinian Unity Government to Accept Quartet Demands


Jordan's King Abdullah has called on the new Palestinian national unity government to accept international demands for recognition. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the monarch also warned that time is running out to reach an agreement on a two state solution of the Middle East crisis.

King Abdullah says there is broad agreement among Arab states that the Palestinian unity government must comply with the demands of the Quartet of world powers mediating the Middle East conflict.

"The Arab countries are also expecting the new Palestinian government to adhere to the policies set out in the Quartet," he said.

The Quartet includes the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. It has set down three conditions for lifting crippling sanctions on the Islamic militant group Hamas, which heads the Palestinian Authority: Hamas must recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previous peace agreements.

Even though Hamas agreed to share power with Palestinian moderates, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, the group rejects demands to recognize Israel and renounce violence. In an interview on Israel's Channel 2 television, King Abdullah said that is unacceptable.

"There's international common ground, not just Western, but also Arab and to an extent Muslim, that believe that there have to be certain criteria that the new government has to accept, if we're going to move the process forward," he added.

The statement appeared to mark a change in course, because, until now, Arab states have been highly critical of western sanctions on Hamas. It is an indication that moderate Arab countries will not side-step the international embargo by financing a Hamas government with a radical agenda.

King Abdullah said both Israel and the Palestinians need to revive the stalled peace process before it is too late.

"We find ourselves at this very important crossroads, and what I do feel really is the last opportunity for peace for all of us," he noted. "The opportunities that we have are diminishing; the frequency of conflict is rising rapidly in the Middle East."

The king said the alternative to making peace is disaster for the entire region.