AMMAN, Dec 19: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid a surprise visit to Jordan on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah II on ways to reactivate peace talks with the Palestinians, the royal court said.
A court statement said the monarch had also offered to host a meeting in Amman between Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya to defuse escalating tensions between their rival factions.
“His majesty had talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who paid a two-hour visit to Jordan and the king also phoned Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas,” the statement said.
Olmert, it added, travelled to Jordan at the request of the king “as part of efforts he is undertaking to revive the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis”.
The meeting came as deadly gunbattles raged across Gaza City, shattering a fragile truce aimed at halting the increasingly violent power struggle between the rival Palestinian factions.
Five people were killed and 19 wounded in the latest bout of clashes, medics said.
The monarch in his telephone call updated Abbas on the talks and discussed ways to defuse tensions in the Palestinian territories, the statement said.
“All options are open, including hosting a meeting in Amman between (Abbas) .. and Haniya to discuss possible means of defusing the political tension between Fatah and Hamas,” the king told Abbas.
A visit by Haniya would be the first to Jordan by a member of the Hamas government since it was set up earlier this year after winning elections.
Jordan has had a rocky relationship with Hamas, expelling in 1999 three officials of the radical Islamist movement -- all Jordanians -- after accusing them
of threatening Jordanian security. Among them was Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal who is now based in neighbouring Syria.
During his talks with Olmert, the king stressed that Israelis and Palestinians “must be convinced that they are partners in the peace process” and return to the negotiating table, the statement said.
“Wasting time in trading blame and accusations from time to time and hesitation in taking measures to bolster the chances of peace will push the region into a cycle of violence, whose price everyone will have to pay”, he said.
He also insisted that the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel must be the basis of any future steps to revive peace talks.—AFP