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Israel's W.Bank moves could harm ties: Jordan

Written by: Staff

Jerusalem, Jun 7: Jordan's ties with Israel could be harmed if the Jewish state reshapes the occupied West Bank without Palestinian agreement, King Abdullah said in an interview published today.

The king is due to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Amman tomorrow. Olmert's office had previously said the meeting would be today.

Israel plans to draw final borders by 2010 if peace negotiations with Palestinians remain frozen. The plan involves uprooting remote Jewish settlements in the West Bank while strengthening larger enclaves behind a fortified border.

''Our ability to improve relations between us and Israel could be harmed by any unilateral action,'' Abdullah told the mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

The Palestinians reject Olmert's unilateral ideas out of hand, saying such moves would deny them the viable state they seek in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Jordan is one of only two Arab countries to have full peace treaties with Israel. The other is Egypt.

Jordanian officials have said King Abdullah would urge Olmert to avoid unilateral action and revive peace talks with the Palestinians.

Olmert promised both in the United States late last month and in talks in Egypt on Sunday to give negotiations with the Palestinians a chance, but said in the end Israel reserved the right to find other ways to end their conflict.

He is expected to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of the month, but prospects for any substantive peace talks have dimmed since the Islamic militant group Hamas took office after winning Palestinian elections in January.

Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

''I hope that in our meeting I will hear from him (Olmert) a clear picture about how he plans to renew the peace process,'' Abdullah said.

Israel's unilateral plans are rooted in a desire to maintain a Jewish majority and reduce conflict with the Palestinians.

About 240,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank among 2.4 million Palestinians. Olmert's blueprint would involve moving about a quarter of the settlers.


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