Palestinian state living in peace with Israel crucial to addressing radicalism: King Abdullah II of Jordan

The King congratulated S'pore for its 'sterling participation' in a UN initiative for interfaith harmony in Jordan.

Matthias Ang | June 20, 2019, 03:52 PM

A viable, independent Palestinian state that lives in peace and security side-by-side with Israel is crucial to addressing radicalism and global discord.

This was one of the key remarks given by King Abdullah II ibn Al-Hussein of Jordan, at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICSS) on June 20, held at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

Denial of Palestinian statehood is the core crisis of the Middle East

In elaborating on his position, King Abdullah II said that the denial of Palestinian statehood was the core crisis of the Middle East region, and highlighted that the conflict had been fuelling radical divisions globally for an extensive period of time.

As such, a lasting peace that met the needs of both sides was needed.

As for what this entailed, the King stated that it would involve the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

What are the 1967 lines?

The 1967 lines refers to the armistice lines (shown in green in the image below) that existed from 1949 up to the Six-Day War in 1967, as per Reuters.

The armistice lines had been first drawn up between Israel and the neighbouring Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, at the conclusion of the war over the establishment of the state of Israel in 1949.

Afterwards, the Six-Day War saw Israel capture the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Israel then occupied both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank militarily and allowed Jews to build settlements in both territories.

Subsequently in 2005, then-Prime Minister of Israel withdrew all Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza, which came under the control of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Jerusalem must be safeguarded

As for the entirety of Jerusalem, King Abdullah II stressed that the city had to be safeguarded, given its sacred status to billions of people worldwide.

He added that his role as Hashemite Custodian of both Islamic and Christian holy sites in the city also meant that he was bound by a special duty to upholding this status.

In reiterating his point, the King stated:

"For all of us, Jerusalem should be and must be a unifying city of peace."

Sending a message to Trump's "Deal of the century"?

Timing-wise, King Abdullah II's message can also be seen in the context of an upcoming meeting, on June 25 and 26, at Bahrain, in which advisors to US President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, are expected to partially unveil the "deal of the century", Foreign Policy reported.

Trump has promised that the plan will resolve the long-standing conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis.

According to Reutersthe plan would leave Palestinians in control of a smaller share of the West Bank, a few areas on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and no control over their borders.

German media Deutsche Welle reported that the plan also treats the U.S.' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as fait accompli.

As such, many Palestinian officials have since voiced their opposition to Trump's plan.

Attack on harmony, respect and trust is the greatest threat to the world

Source: ICCS

As for the issue of global discord itself, King Abdullah II highlighted that the attack on interfaith harmony, mutual respect, and trust was the single most important threat of our times.

He explained that this was because every global challenge in the 21st century -- economic growth, peacemaking, protecting the environment, global security, inclusive opportunity -- required cooperation, and a resistance to hatred and exclusion.

The King further highlighted that loving one's neighbour was not an ideal, but a golden rule that enabled people to live side-by-side, look beyond themselves and achieve common goals.

As such, this meant focusing on three different areas to defend social cohesion:

1. Bringing together people who want peace

In this regard, King Abdullah II pointed to the Amman Message and A Common Word, as examples of initiatives by Jordan to bring people together, noting that they had inspired positive exchanges worldwide.

For those of you wondering, the Amman Message was a statement released on November 9, 2004, in which it sought to clarify the proper nature of Islam, with the subsequent backing of 200 of the world's leading Islamic scholars.

As for A Common Word, it was a platform established in 2007, with the aim of facilitating better dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Islam.

Additionally, Jordan also sponsored the UN Annual World Interfaith Harmony week.

Here, the King congratulated Singapore for its "sterling participation" in the event, highlighting the focus on youth.

2. Taking advantage of the tools of the modern world

With regard to this area, King Abdullah II stated that extremists had taken advantage of global connectivity to further their atrocities and that it was therefore necessary for governments, big companies, as well as users to reclaim the space.

On governmental response, the King pointed to Jordan's launch of the Aqaba Process in 2015 -- a series of international meetings aimed at bolstering cooperation and response against terrorism, as per the Jordan Times.

He added that the goal of the effort was to address the narrative of hate and that the initiative had been fruitful thus far.

As for the response of companies, the King pointed to a high-level meeting in Paris, on May 15, known as the "Christchurch Call to Action", which also saw the attendance of representatives from tech companies, with the aim of countering terrorist and extremist content online.

At the same time, there is also an onus on youth and moderate voices, as users of the Internet, to reclaim the space and redirect dialogue away from hate and misinformation, to understanding and respect.

3. Long-term commitment

King Abdullah II concluded that all of this meant that it was therefore necessary to invest in inclusive and sustainable development for people, especially the youth.

Highlighting that the threat by extremists was constantly evolving, the King added that it was necessary for people to have opportunity, so as to combat divisive ideologies and help respond to the world's refugee crisis.

The King then concluded his speech by stating:

"People speak these days about the challenges facing multicultural societies. The truth is we are all part of the one, great, multicultural society that is our world."

Top image from ICCS