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The Mideast

Jordan's King Issues Rebuke to Israel, Asks U.S. to Direct Peace Talks

Jordan's King Abdullah II said he will push the Obama administration next week to impose on Israel the terms and timeline for new peace talks with the Palestinians, as concerns mount inside his government that the stalled dialogue could fuel a new round of violence in the Middle East that targets moderate Arab states, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Jordan's leader also delivered a rebuke of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charging that his policy of building homes for Jewish families in East Jerusalem pushed Jordanian-Israeli relations to their lowest point since a 1994 peace treaty.

King Abdullah said he and other moderate Arab leaders are increasingly doubtful that Netanyahu is capable of making the concessions needed to create an independent Palestinian state -- requiring a direct intervention by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton outlined the terms for peace talks during his second term: establishing "parameters" that held both sides to focusing on creating an independent Palestinian state based on the pre-June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem serving as the capital.

During a 40-minute conversation at his limestone offices in western Amman, King Abdullah said: "I met Benjamin Netanyahu ... this time last year. I was extremely optimistic by the vision he had for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Arabs.

"However, I have to say, that over the past 12 months, everything I've seen on the ground has made me extremely skeptical," he added. "And, I believe I'm one of the more optimistic people you'll find in this part of the world."

Netanyahu's government was quick to challenge the Jordanian monarch.

"If anyone looks at what Prime Minister Netanyahu has done since coming into office, he's taken unprecedented steps'' on behalf of peace, said an Israeli official, citing Israel's partial moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank and the lifting of movement restrictions on Palestinians. "To ignore that and say that this government has done nothing is simply untrue.''

King Abdullah is scheduled to leave for Washington on Saturday to attend President Obama's nuclear security summit.

Jordanian officials said they expect the king to hold a meeting with Obama next week.