Akiva Eldar
October 8, 2009 - 12:00am

Jordan's King Abdullah II has asked Haaretz to relay a message to the Israeli public that it disavow the illusion that the status quo can be perpetuated, because as a result of the diplomatic impasse, "We are sliding back into the darkness.

"Is Israel going to be fortress Israel or is it going to be part of the neighborhood? Because if there is no two-state solution, what future do we all have together?" he asked in an exclusive interview on Tuesday at his palace in Amman at the height of the disturbances in East Jerusalem.

"Show me the future of Israel 10 years from now. Where do you want Israel to be vis-a-vis its relationship with Jordan and other Arab countries? I understand that you tend to live in the here and now. You are worried about the next threat. It is difficult for an Israeli to look into the future because of the security aspect. But if there is peace and stability, then people can look into the future."

Jerusalem is "a tinderbox that will have a major flashpoint throughout the Islamic world," he added.

The king said he had raised the sanctity and sensitivity of Jerusalem with every Israeli prime minister, including Benjamin Netanyahu. He said that it "is important to understand the need of ending all settlement activities and other unilateral actions that threaten the identity of the holy city."

Abdullah said he had also discussed the issue with the U.S. administration. He warned that attempts to change the situation in the city could destabilize relations with Jordan, which by agreement has a special function in Jerusalem, and could damage efforts to renew negotiations with the Palestinians.

When asked whether he supports bringing back the wall that divided the city until June 1967, Abdullah said: "I don't believe in dividing the city with a wall. We don't want to see walls anywhere. Walls eventually do come down. Putting up walls have never helped societies."

Jerusalem should be a symbol of coexistence for the three monotheistic faiths, he added.

With the Israel-Jordan peace treaty approaching its 15th anniversary, the 48-year-old Jordanian leader recalled the glory days of relations between the two neighboring countries. He spoke of the feelings of friendship and faith his father, the late King Hussein, had for Yitzhak Rabin. He said that unfortunately, "our relationship is getting colder."

The king, who this year marked his 10th anniversary on the throne, attributes the gap between the two countries to foot-dragging on negotiations with the Palestinians and the settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Abdullah called for a renewal of talks on the basis of understandings that had been reached with previous Israeli governments, and not to begin from point zero.

In reference to his decision to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in Jordan, Abdullah pledged that it would be done with the safest and most efficient technology available, to protect the facilities from natural disasters or terror attacks. "We will, and we all should, be transparent when it comes to nuclear energy," he said.

When asked whether, in this reference to transparency, he had Israel in mind, he said, "It's sort of a dark subject. And that applies to Israel as it applies to other countries."


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