PM Olmert Invites Jordan's King Abdullah II to Visit Israel

In meeting with Acting President Itzik, king urges Israel to accept Saudi initiative as basis for talks.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has invited Jordan's King Abdullah II to visit Israel as Arab governments and Israel edge toward new discussion of an Arab peace proposal, officials said on Friday.

No date has been set for the visit by the monarch, Israeli and Jordanian officials said.

"His Majesty is ready to engage in any effort that helps to bring about the success of the Arab initiative and the setting up of a Palestinian state," a source in the Jordanian royal palace in Amman told Reuters.

The Prime Minister's Office said it had not yet received an official response from Jordan and gave no details on the plans for the visit.

King Abdullah II Thursday told a delegation of Knesset members that "we are in the same boat, we have the same problem. We have the same enemies." The king reiterated the comments a number of times, which those at the meeting said referred to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Abdullah also emphasized that he spoke not only for Jordan but for a group of states in the region. The king asked at one point: "Do you want Iran on the banks of the Jordan?"

Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said in response: "I have seen Jordanian openness that does not hesitate to scold extremist Muslims." MK Shlomo Breznitz said that the comments raise the first hope that moderates plan to set the tone in the Arab world. "The style and daring are new," he said.

The king made the comments at his palace in Amman in a meeting with Acting Israeli President Dalia Itzik and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzachi Hanegbi, as well as six additional lawmakers. The Israeli delegation attacked a mention of an Arab right of return, saying there is no Israeli who will agree to that and it would be like asking Israel to commit suicide.

The king responded again and again that everything would be consensual. He claimed the Arab peace plan is not a plan but talking points. After Rivlin said the Arab League secretary commented "Take it or leave it," Abdullah said "Leave him to me." He did say that instead of talking about he right of return, it might be necessary to talk about the right to compensation, and that it was not only an Israeli problem, but also a problem of the wealthy Arab countries.

Abdullah said Thursday that Israel must accept the Saudi peace initiative.

The king called on Israel to "adopt the Arab initiative as the basis for negotiations with the Palestinians and not to miss this historic opportunity for recognition by all the countries of the region and true integration into the region." He added: "I worry about the generations to come. This is an unparalleled opportunity and I have taken it upon myself to influence the people of Israel."

The palace announcement emphasized that the Knesset delegation was invited as part of the king's diplomatic efforts to jumpstart the peace process. The Arab League has decided to appoint Jordan and Egypt to take the lead in approaching the Jewish state to promote the Arab peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli delegation was impressed with Abdullah's frankness but said he demands too high a price.