“Skeptics have every right to be skeptical given the history of this conflict,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said when speaking about peace in the Middle East with Carol Castiel on VOA’s Press Conference USA. “But I think this time we have a moment of opportunity that we can all grab onto.”
Foreign Minister Judeh also said that negotiations should be made in good faith and in privacy, and while the issues of Jerusalem, water access, refugees, security and borders are still unsettled, he is hopeful.
He sees implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative as a crucial step toward achieving comprehensive peace in the region. Judeh called it a “blueprint for normal relations with Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states.” In exchange for security guarantees for Israel, the initiative requires that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories and negotiate with its neighbors on the Palestinian refugee issue.
The Arab Peace Initiative was first proposed by the Arab League nearly a decade ago. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Foreign Minister Judeh before the Arab League met on October 8, 2010 in Libya to discuss the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Jordan is a key sponsor and backer of the peace talks. Foreign Minister Judeh said “the Palestinians negotiate with Israel, but we support the Palestinians and we look after our own interests as well.” Jordan is one of only two Arab states that have a peace treaty with Israel.
Peacemaking between Israel and Palestine is a cornerstone of President Obama’s foreign policy. Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly this year, Obama said he hopes to see Palestine as a viable, independent state and Israel as a secure state at the next U.N. General Assembly.
As a sponsor of continued Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh acknowledged President Obama’s commitment to the issue. He said Obama’s message to the U.N. was “loud, clear and unequivocal.”
At the October 8 meeting of the Arab League, Palestinians agreed to give the United States one month to persuade Israel to extend the moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank before halting peace talks. Palestinian officials rejected Israel’s recent offer which conditioned a renewal of the settlement freeze on Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian officials contend that the “Jewishness” of Israel is not central to the freeze.
To listen to the September 25th interview with Foreign Minister Judeh, please click here.