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King Abdullah praises Trump's Israel-Palestine efforts

King of Jordan welcomes Trump's 'holistic approach' as US leader vows commitment to bringing stability to Middle East.

King Abdullah II

King Abdullah II of Jordan has expressed his trust in US President Donald Trump's vision of tackling challenges in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking in front of the White House together with Trump, the Arab monarch said on Wednesday that the US leader's "early engagement is beginning to bring Palestinians and Israelis together".

"I am very delighted for your vision and holistic approach to all the challenges in the region," he told Trump.

"There is a lot of responsibility for all of us in the international community to support the president of the United States and the American people to bring brighter days to all of us."

Trump said he was working "very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between Palestinians and Israel and I think we will be successful, I hope to be successful".

He also said the Jordanian leader - “a tireless advocate for a solution" - would help him with his mission.

"Working together, the United States and Jordan can help bring peace and stability to the Middle East and in fact to the entire world. And we will do that," said Trump.

A two-state solution - the idea of Israel and Palestine living side-by-side and at peace - has been the bedrock of US diplomacy for the past two decades.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the capital in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

Trump sparked international criticism in February when he suggested, in a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that he would no longer insist on the creation of an independent Palestinian state as part of any future peace accord. 

In an interview several weeks later, he clarified that he would be "satisfied with whatever [solution] makes both parties happy".

Netanyahu committed, with conditions, to the two-state solution in a speech in 2009 and has broadly reiterated the aim since. But he has also spoken of a "state minus" option, suggesting he could offer the Palestinians deep-seated autonomy and the trappings of statehood without full sovereignty.

While Netanyahu has paid rhetorical tribute to the two-state solution, the construction of Jewish-only settlements in occupied territory under his administration has escalated dramatically. Analysts have repeatedly hinted the idea of a two-state solution is dead. 

Since January the Israeli government, emboldened Trump's inauguration, has authorised the construction of more than 6,000 illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, including 719 in East Jerusalem.

Analysts say the increase in settlement marks a shift in strategy from the Israeli government's more cautious approach under the Obama administration. 

In recent weeks a number of Israeli Knesset members have proposed a law to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim to Jerusalem, along with other settlements in close proximity to the city.

In February of this year, the Israeli parliament passed a bill that retroactively legalises the seizure of private Palestinian land on which settlements have already been established. 

More than half a million Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to leading Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

'Unsustainable status quo'

Former Jordanian prime minister Samir al-Rifai said the king's visit to Washington was important for Jordan and for the Middle East as a whole.

"At this juncture, given the conflicts in the region along with the deterioration of the peace process, the status quo is not sustainable," he said.

Rifai also praised the Jordanian leader's efforts to urge the US government to play "a constructive role to end the plight of the Palestinian people and establish a Palestinian state".

"The continued reluctance to drive the process forward and establish an independent Palestinian state is hindering any chance for peace and security in the region and is fueling the fire of hate and giving various actors fodder to continue with their destructive agendas," he said.

Adnan Abu Odeh, Jordan's former information minister and chief of the royal court under the late King Hussein, said he was sceptical whether the US could really help advance peace in the region, particularly by ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands or advancing a two-state solution.

"The United States and Israel are one side, therefore the US should not be treated as a third party who is supposed to be a broker of peace talks with Israel," he said.

"While the US is falsely presenting itself as a third party, Arab states constructed an alternate reality in order to believe it."

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