Jordan’s Safadi warns of 'apartheid' if Palestinians and Israelis fail in two-state pact

Jordanian foreign minister said he was 'hopeful' about talks to renew substantive US aid package to Amman

Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi is in Washington to meet US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. AFP
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Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi warned on Thursday of a case of “institutionalised” apartheid if a two-state solution is not reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Mr Safadi, who is also Jordan’s minister of foreign affairs, also said on his visit to Washington that a one-state solution will not bring peace.

“The one-state solution is not a solution. It will be the one-state reality and it will be another area whereby apartheid will be institutionalised,” Mr Safadi said at the Brookings Institution, an American think tank based in Washington.

“That's something that will not bring peace to all of us and will not solve the conflict.”

Mr Safadi told The National in a press briefing on Friday that effective measures need to be taken to alleviate the problems the Palestinian Authority is facing.

“The Palestinian Authority is facing tremendous challenges and there’s a need for real measures to find an economic horizon that fulfills the demands of its people and presents a political path through a process leading to resolve the conflict and establishing a two-state solution.”

Jordan for decades has been an ardent advocate for the two-state-solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis and has been pushing to resume long-stalled negotiations between the parties. Mr Safadi said he would be discussing the resumption of talks in his meetings with US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on Thursday.

“We’ll be having a very thorough conversation with our US partners in how we can create a path to restarting negotiations [between Israelis and Palestinians] and move forward.”

The administration of US President Joe Biden resumed aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) last year and has also engaged in outreach to the Palestinian Authority by sending high-level officials to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ties had suffered during the administration of former president Donald Trump, who cut aid to the Palestinian Authority and shuttered its diplomatic mission in Washington.

The State Department has also heaped praise on recent contacts between Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Mr Abbas's first visit to Israel in a decade to meet Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

“It is imperative to say that maintaining the calm [between Israelis and Palestinians] is going to need measures that go beyond addressing the immediate needs,” Mr Safadi said, calling for the resumption of talks to achieve a settlement.

As to war-torn Syria, Mr Safadi warned against accepting “status quo politics” and called for US and Russian understanding to move the political track forward.

“Status quo politics is not an option for some in the region that continues to live with the terrible consequences of [the Syrian civil war],” he said.

Jordan currently hosts more than a million Syrian refugee and recently reopened communication with the regime of President Bashar Al Assad in an effort to boost security co-ordination.

In his meetings in Washington, Jordan’s top diplomat is seeking to renew a five-year agreement that guarantees $1.25 billion in annual US aid, set to expire in September.

“We're hopeful that we'll be able to include yet another [agreement] that would ensure a continuation of the critical US support for Jordan,” Mr Safadi said.

Following the meeting with Mr Blinken, the State Department emphasised the need for economic reforms in Jordan.

"They discussed the importance of implementing reforms that expand economic growth and opportunity, including securing access to water," the US readout of the meeting said.

Jordan's economy is struggling due to the effects of the pandemic.

On regional issues, Mr Blinken reaffirmed "US commitment to stability in the region through support of a political solution in Syria and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

During his week-long visit, Mr Safadi met members of the US Congress and also held meetings at the White House and Department of Defence.

Updated: January 14, 2022, 6:57 PM