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King Abdullah: 'Last opportunity' for Mideast peace

Story Highlights

• King stresses that Palestinian government must meet Quartet's demands
• "Momentum" with peace process represents a "golden opportunity," he says
• Jordanian leader touts the importance of a two-state solution
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AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- The current juncture in Middle East diplomacy presents a golden but final opportunity to resolve the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Jordan's King Abdullah.

He stressed that a new Palestinian unity government must abide by the demands of the so-called Mideast Quartet, which includes a recognition of the Jewish state.

The Quartet members are the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

"I think the circumstances in the Middle East have changed so much that really this is our last opportunity. We have all this momentum moving in the right direction at the moment," Abdullah said in a Saturday interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV.

The king touted the importance of a two-state solution and the need for Israel to be "fully integrated into the neighborhood."

If chances for peace aren't exploited now, he said, "I think we'll always live under the shadow of, for example, this summer" -- referring to Israel's war with the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a trilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Full story)

In addition, the Palestinian rival factions of Hamas and Fatah reached a power-sharing deal recently in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The king spoke about "the momentum that has been going on -- not only with the Americans and the Quartet, [and] with the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also the relaunching of the Arab peace initiative.

"This is the golden opportunity that is in front of all of us," Abdullah said.

Because of these peace efforts, he said, many Muslim countries outside and beyond the borders of the Middle East are interested in reaching out to Israel to finally try to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

He urged the Palestinians to "adhere" to international policies set up in both the Mideast Quartet and the Arab Quartet, which includes the moderate Arab nations of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

"There's international common ground" for "certain criteria" the new unity government must accept if peace steps are to move forward, he said. Such agreement, he said, is not only Western, it's Arab and "to an extent Muslim."

"You have a President Mahmoud Abbas who is your negotiator and is prepared to be able to move the peace process forward and a government that is going to be formed that will have to adhere to the Quartet conditions but also to our conditions."

The king said he understands that many Israelis believe the Mecca accord between Hamas and Fatah constitutes a setback because the national unity government in the Palestinian region isn't embracing Quartet benchmarks.

Those benchmarks include recognizing Israel, stopping violence and accepting agreements with Israel.

"I fully understand that perception in the Israeli public, but I believe that the attempt of the Mecca accords was to stop the violence spiraling out of control between the Palestinian factions, and to try and create a movement where they could step forward," he said. "There is a government that is going to be formed."


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Jordan's King Abdullah, speaking to the U.N. last fall, said many Muslim nations are interested in reaching out to Israel.

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