May 10, 2009 / 11:10 PM / 11 years ago

Jordan's king says U.S. pushing new plan for Mideast

Jordan's King Abdullah arrives at Sao Bento Palace in Lisbon March 17, 2009. REUTERS/Hugo Correia

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is promoting a peace plan for the Middle East involving a “57-state solution” in which the entire Muslim world would recognize Israel, Monday’s Times of London quoted Jordan’s King Abdullah as saying.

“We are offering a third of the world to meet them with open arms,” the king said. “The future is not the Jordan River or the Golan Heights or the Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic and Indonesia in the Pacific. That is the prize.”

But he warned: “If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months.”

The newspaper said the king had hatched the plan with President Barack Obama in Washington in April. Details are likely to be thrashed out in a series of diplomatic moves this month, including Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next week.

“What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese,” said the king.

The newspaper said that, as an incentive to Israel to freeze the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Arab states may offer incentives such as letting the Israeli airline El Al fly through Arab air space, and granting visas for Israelis.

A White House spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the report.

The Obama administration backs the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of the solution to the Middle East conflict. Netanyahu has yet to endorse the idea.

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