Jordanian King Abdullah II has said that his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has improved and that the latter has contributed to the stability of the Hashemite government, in an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg published Tuesday.
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Abdullah would not give details to Goldberg about the nature of his relationship with Netanyahu, whom he has met with repeatedly recently, saying only that it was “very strong. Our discussions have really improved.”
The Jordanian king stressed in his interview with Goldberg that his country's peace treaty with Israel was a "red line" that must not be crossed by any successive government in Amman: “I don’t want a government to come in and say, 'We repudiate the peace treaty with Israel.'"
The king's remarks to Goldberg come after years of tension with Netanyahu. The two met only twice in the first three years of Netanyahu's recent tenure. Over the last three months, however, Netanyahu has met Abdullah in Amman at least twice to discuss the crisis in Syria and the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.
Neither of those recent meetings were publicized in Israel, and emerged in Arab media only days after they occurred.
Goldberg reported in December that Israel had asked Jordan at least twice for a green light to attack chemical weapons facilities in Syria. Netanyahu sent representatives of the Mossad intelligence agency to Amman twice already, to coordinate the matter with the Jordanians and receive their "permission" for the operation, Goldberg wrote.
The Jordanians, however, responded negatively to the request and refused to grant their approval. American officials quoted in the article said the Jordanians told Israel the "time was not right" for such an action.
In his interview with Goldberg on Tuesday, Abdullah would not comment on any joint Israeli-Jordanian operations, but Goldberg wrote that sources from both countries have informed him that Israeli drones were in fact monitoring Jordan's border with Syria on the prior's behalf.
Despite his positive remarks about Netanyahu, Abdullah portrayed a pessimistic outlook on the Palestinian-Israel conflict during his interview with Goldberg. “It could be too late already for the two-state solution,” he told Goldberg. “I don’t know. Part of me is worried that is already past us.”
When asked what he meant, Abdullah told Goldberg: “Isratine… That’s a neologism popularized by the late Muammar Gadhafi to describe his vision of a joint Arab-Jewish state.
Israeli would have to choose “apartheid or democracy” if a Palestinian state is not created soon, Abdullah told Goldberg. “The practical question is, can Israel exert permanent control over Palestinians who are disenfranchised ad infinitum, or does it eventually become a South Africa, which couldn’t survive as a pariah state?”
Goldberg, one of the most influential journalists in the United States, also spoke to Haaretz's Ari Shavit in an interview published Tuesday, explaining to readers why Obama is making the trip, and what the likely ramifications of the presidential visit are.