Jordan's king tells Kushner Palestinians must have a state

Abdullah says there must be 2-state solution

By Nicole Gaouette, CNN
Alex Wong/Getty Images

King Abdullah II of Jordan speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) at the Rose Garden of the White House April 5, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

(CNN) - Jordan's King Abdullah drew a red line on the plan that the Trump administration is expected to unveil to attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, telling White House senior adviser Jared Kushner Wednesday it must be based on a two-state solution that gives Palestinians a capital in East Jerusalem.

Kushner is traveling in Morocco, Jordan and Israel this week to meet with officials and drum up support for the long-awaited plan's economic portion, which will be unveiled during a June conference in Bahrain.

King Abdullah, who acts as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, has not committed to attend the conference.

In his discussions with the President's son-in-law, the King "stressed the need to step up all efforts to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace on the basis of the two-state solution, guaranteeing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions," the Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement.

The statement served as a message to Kushner and his team, who have stressed that they do not feel bound by previous formulas that drove peace talks, including the idea of two states. Their approach is expected to focus on investment in Palestinian territories before dealing with political issues.

For the King and Jordan, which shares a border with Israel and where more than 60 percent of the population are estimated to be of Palestinian descent, the administration's approach to the conflict has significant ramifications.

"It's very important," said Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Wilson Center. "The King has a fundamental stake in making sure that whatever Kushner is proposing doesn't expose him," Miller added, citing Jordan's "large Palestinian population and the King's special role and status in Jerusalem."

Jordan's population and shared border with both Israel and the Palestinian territories means the King has far greater stakes in the outcome of the plan than any other Arab leader, given the possible upheaval it could create.

On Tuesday evening, activists and members of the Muslim brotherhood called for a protest outside the US Embassy in Amman to reject Kushner's visit and what President Donald Trump has called the "deal of the century."

Jordanian security forces prevented protesters from reaching the embassy, forcing them to hold their demonstration in an area nearby, where the crowd chanted against the peace plan and some held up handwritten signs, including some that read "No to the deal of the century," and "Go back home Kushner."

"If the political part of this plan turns out to be a betrayal of the Palestinian narrative, it exposes Abdullah in a way that no other Arab leader is exposed," Miller said. That's why the King adhered in his statement to Kushner to the outlines of the deal that have guided Palestinian expectations and international negotiations for years, Miller said.

"it is standard operating procedure for the King and it also happens to be the Arab consensus," Miller said.

Palestinians have already rejected the Kushner plan and the idea of attending the Bahrain conference, arguing that the Trump administration has been extremely biased in favor of Israel.

Palestinian leaders point to a series of US moves, including recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there, closing Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington, and ending aid to United Nations agencies that fund education and health programs for Palestinian refugees.

The economic aspect of Kushner's seeks a multi-billion dollar investment from countries in the region to spur the Palestinian and surrounding economies, should a peace agreement be reached, an administration official previously told CNN. Kushner made a similar trip to the Middle East earlier this spring with the same goal.

The US officials do not plan on sharing details of the political portion of the plan during the trip, the administration official said, but they will listen to input from the foreign officials on those thornier issues.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Ghazi Balkiz, Hamdi Alkhshali, Jeremy Diamond and Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.

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