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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King: Arabs, Muslims in US can be messengers of understanding
Washington, DC, 22 April 2013

His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday met with representatives of Arab and Islamic organisations in Washington, emphasising the important role that US Arab and Islamic organisations can play in communicating the issues of the Arab nations to decision makers in the US.

King Abdullah said these organisations can help entrench understanding and build bridges of cooperation and dialogue between the Arab and Islamic world, on one end, and the West, on the other.

His Majesty also stressed the need for intensifying global efforts to reach a comprehensive solution to the escalating Syrian crisis and its consequences, as more refugees flee into neighbouring countries. Currently, an estimated 500,000 displaced Syrians are taking refuge in Jordan.

The King pointed to the pressure on Jordan’s infrastructure and services as a result of the influx of Syrian refugees, including hospitals and schools, which have received an additional 42,000 students since the conflict began.

His Majesty emphasised that the international community must shoulder its responsibilities, supporting Jordan in dealing with this urgent situation.

The King stressed that in the absence of a solution, the Syrian crisis will escalate and violence will increase, with disastrous consequences on the future of the Middle East. He also warned against the rise of extremism in the region if the crisis in Syria continues.

Reiterating a call for a comprehensive political transition that ends the bloodshed and safeguards the unity and sovereignty of Syria, the King described the current situation as “disastrous.”

The King also underlined the “centrality” of the Palestinian cause. He said ongoing regional instability has been a direct consequence of the failure to achieve peace in Palestine, stressing that the two-state solution is the sole path to make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and ensure regional security.

His Majesty underscored the significant role that Arab and Islamic organisations play in highlighting Arab causes and the suffering of the Palestinian people to decision makers in the US, in order to gain more support for peace efforts.

The King said Israeli unilateral measures, particularly the continuation of settlement activities and attempts to change the identity of Jerusalem by diminishing its Arab, Islamic and Christian, character, hinder any genuine efforts to achieve comprehensive peace.

His Majesty said the “window” to achieve peace has started closing, and international and regional stakeholders must rally their efforts to revive the peace process.

The King cited the role of the Hashemites in safeguarding holy sites in Jerusalem, adding that the recent agreement between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority giving Jordan full authority to take measures to protect the city was part of the continued historical Hashemite obligation to protect Islamic and Christian sites in Jerusalem.

President and founder of the American Taskforce on Palestine Ziad Asali said the situation in Palestine needs constant support, noting that Jordan’s support is considered the most important due to its “historical” links to the Jerusalem cause.

Asali said Jordan’s voice is heard in Washington due to the decades-long relationship between the Kingdom and the US.

Executive Director and founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Nihad Awad said Jordan’s relations with Arab and Islamic organisations in the US positively reflect on their understanding of the issues and challenges Jordan is facing.

He pointed to the importance of Jordan’s role in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and moving the peace efforts forward, especially in light of the “chance we have under the leadership of President Obama,” and the role of Muslim- and Arab-Americans, and in light of latest developments in Jordanian-American relations.