The Washington Post
October 22, 2011 - 12:00am

SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah on Saturday urged Israel and the Palestinians to look to the Arab Spring uprisings for inspiration and to restart their stalled peace talks.

“The future for the Middle East and beyond is with the normalcy of peace,” Abdullah told the opening of a two-day special meeting of the Davos-based World Economic Forum, held on the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

He said “shortsighted leaders may think they can shut” the door to peace — a rebuke believed directed at Israel’s right-wing government. He added that a Palestinian-Israeli deal must consider Israel’s “security and acceptance” and allow for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Around 1,000 participants from 50 countries, including the United States, are attending the meeting which will discuss ways for economic development and creating jobs in the Arab world following the revolts that unseated three longtime Arab leaders.

Abdullah said one of the main factors to be considered is creating 85,000 jobs across the region soon to help alleviate poverty and improve living conditions for the youth who are leading the effort for change.

“Our region stands today at the gates to the future,” Abdullah said, referring to the Arab uprisings. One of those gates, he said, leads “to peace and justice, opening the way out of regional crisis, especially (for the issue) at the heart of the region, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Former Arab League chief Amr Moussa said recent shifts in the Arab world coupled with an economic contraction at the global level have created a new urgency for decision-makers across the region to review policy to revive economic growth and support human development.

Moussa, who is Egypt’s presidential hopeful in the wake of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, said his country’s economic woes following its revolution are “solvable.”

“Serious” work, planning and stability are the keys to reinvigorating Egypt’s economy after near daily protests and strikes wreaked havoc with revenues and unsettled investors since January, Moussa told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the WEF.

The Arab world’s most populous country has seen economic growth contract sharply with key foreign revenue sources like tourism and foreign direct investment hit particularly hard.

Also at the gathering in Jordan, Libya’s acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said his country has used 62 percent of its oil resources under deposed Moammar Gadhafi.

“We only have 32 percent left,” he told the AP.

“We have to look for other sources of income in the next 20 years,” he said. “The time is limited and it’s very critical. Therefore, we have to utilize it well to look for other alternatives.”

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in a report released at the conference Saturday urged Mideast policy makers to boost jobs, education and entrepreneurship, as the region grapples with uprisings and a global economic crisis.

The groups said that the Middle East had the highest youth unemployment rate in the world with 2.8 million youth entering the labor market every year. They said that 25 million new jobs were needed over the next decade.

Protests in Tunisia, Jordan and other Arab countries since the start of the year began with calls for more jobs, lower taxes and other economic reforms before assuming an increasing political tone.


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