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Jordan king: We are Israel's last ally in region

Oct. 27, 2011 1:19 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 28, 2011 9:57 A.M.)
WASHINGTON (Ma'an) -- Jordan's King Abdullah on Tuesday said his kingdom was Israel's last ally in the region and warned that Egypt may dissolve its peace treaty with Tel Aviv.

"We are actually the last man standing with our relationship with Israel," the king told The Washington Post, pointing to Israel's troubled relations with Turkey and Egypt.

Jordan will maintain peaceful ties with Israel because it is in both parties' interests, he said.

But the king warned that Cairo's new leadership might break Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, in place since 1979.

"That is a very, very strong possibility."

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a treaty with Israel, but relations have been tense since the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in February. Mubarak had long defended the peace agreement despite its unpopularity with many Egyptians.

When Israeli troops killed five Egyptian border guards in August after an incident in which eight Israelis were killed near the frontier, protesters stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo. The embassy was evacuated and Israel flew its ambassador home.

But Egypt's recent mediation of a captive exchange between Hamas and Israel, which was swiftly followed by a prisoner swap deal between Cairo and Tel Aviv announced Monday, may suggest a thaw in tension between the capitals.

Asked if he thought it was strange for Israel to negotiate with Hamas, King Abdullah said: "It is politics at the end of the day."

Meanwhile, he questioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's commitment to reaching an agreement with Palestine based on two states.

"This is the most frustrated I have ever been about the peace process. I think a lot of us have come to the conclusion that this particular (Israeli) government is not interested in a two-state solution."

He added: "Since I am not convinced there is an interest in a two-state solution, the question I am asking is: What is Plan B?"

The Hebrew-language daily Maariv on Thursday said King Abdullah was worried that Netanyahu planned to topple his rule and create a Palestinian state in Jordan.

Quoting Western intelligence officials, Maariv said the king was convinced Israel was deliberately destabilizing President Mahmoud Abbas to create regional chaos and that Netanyahu wanted Palestinians to overthrow his Hashemite rule in Jordan.

Palestinians constitute a demographic majority in Jordan and Abdullah believes Israel wants to transfer the population of the West Bank to the neighboring country, Maariv reported.

According to the report, Abdullah is also concerned that the prisoner swap deal has strengthened Hamas and that the Islamist movement might try to move its headquarters from Damascus to Amman due to the unrest in Syria.
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