Jordan -- From time to time, history hlds moments of great potential,
when we can look forward with hope even as we experience crisis
and uncertainty. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, just such a moment
may be here. With the sad passing of Yasir Arafat, Palestinians
have lost a leader who kept their hope of independence alive for
more than half a century. Now, an opportunity exists to honor the
best of that legacy, in a new drive for progress and peace, in a
part of the world that has seen too much bloodshed.
Today the Arab-Israeli
conflict remains the world's central challenge. Israelis and Palestinians
both need an end to its bitter violence. So do the global millions
who suffer the collateral damage: ongoing extremist violence and
deep cynicism about international justice.
In 2002, Arab
countries took a bold step forward, committing themselves to a two-state
solution that includes security guarantees for Israel to live in
peace with its neighbors; a sovereign and democratic Palestine;
and a process that leads to a comprehensive settlement, addressing
the Syrian and Lebanese tracks.
solution recognizes what I and my late father, King Hussein, have
long argued. For lasting peace, Israel must be fully integrated
into the entire region, from Morocco to Yemen. But this depends
on creating an independent Palestinian state, whose people are,
at last, able to live in dignity and hope. Unless this happens,
there will be no regionwide acceptance of Israel and no real peace.
In 2003, the
parties agreed on the road map to peace. The United States and the
eight leading industrialized nations are also on board. But the
process has been trapped in an ongoing cycle of violence. Now, events
provide fresh opportunities. New Palestinian leadership can carry
forward the vision of a viable, independent Palestine by delivering
on the reforms that statehood involves: competent governance, investments
in public welfare, fighting corruption, tougher security against
terrorism and a real partnership at the peace tables.
In Israel, the
government can recommit to the road map and move swiftly to withdraw
from Gaza and take other confidence-building measures that will
refute the charge that its recent policies are intended to sideline
the peace process and further divide people. Both sides can now
make the compromises that a comprehensive, lasting and just peace
Just as important,
with its elections over, the United States can now refocus on this
critical issue. The world's most powerful, most visible democracy
has a chance to send a strong message to the region's people, especially
its youth - a message of deeds, not words. That means fulfilling
the promise of a rebuilt, violence-free, democratic and sovereign
Iraq. And in the spiritual heart of the region it means leading
the peace process and insisting that both sides engage in genuine
dialogue and live up to their commitments spelled out in the road
map - one that President
Bush has said could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state
how important it is to reach the world's Muslims. In the aftermath
of 9/11, American leaders pledged that the war on terror was not
a war on Islam. They acknowledged Islam's commitment to peace and
recognized the great contributions of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims.
They called on people of all faiths to stand together, and called
on all nations to join the United States in its fight.
And for good
reason. We can't win the war on terror if we don't act together.
We Muslims were the first targets of the extremists, whose stated
goal is to bring down moderate governments and stop the growth of
democratic civil society. My country has played a significant role
in the global alliance against terrorism, and more: we have led
a regional effort for reform and development to counter the voices
of hatred and cynicism. International reports have ranked our country
first in the region in educational reform. In the economy, we have
encouraged growth and opportunity; in public life, we have emphasized
human rights and good governance.
vision is of a modern civil society rooted in Arab-Islamic values.
The Koran teaches: "Be just: that is next to piety." As a descendant
of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be unto Him, I am committed to the
struggle for tolerance and progress. I believe Jordan's path shows
what a homegrown Arab-Islamic model can accomplish in fostering
development, combating extremism and providing new hope.
At the end of
the day, the success of regional reform depends on a renewed commitment
to peace and progress, supported by a courageous America. That achievement
will bring global healing. Perhaps now, in a moment shaped by both
loss and hope, the time has come.
II is king of Jordan.