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Last update - 01:48 23/03/2005
Abdullah: Syria, Hezbollah promote terror against Israel
By Nathan Guttman
WASHINGTON - Jordan's King Abdullah warned yesterday that Syria and Hezbollah are encouraging Palestinian activists to carry out terror attacks against Israel, trying to divert attention from the situation in Lebanon and Syria.
In a meeting with representatives of leading Jewish organizations, Abdullah also said Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are the greatest threats to stability in the Middle East.
Abdullah said he recently told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that in case of a terrorist attack Sharon should check carefully who is behind it to avoid an Israeli retaliation against the wrong target. Abdullah was implying that, should a terror attack occur, Sharon would find that Hezbollah was responsible.
Sources who attended the session said they were surprised by the vehemence of Abdullah's remarks about Syria. They noted that he opened the meeting with his concerns about efforts by Syria and Hezbollah to undermine the peace process with terror attacks against Israel.
One U.S. Jewish source, recalling a similar meeting with the king on his first visit to Washington as Jordan's ruler, said Abdullah was then full of praise for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Abdullah said Jordan has succeeded in thwarting several attempts by terrorists to infiltrate Israel to carry out attacks. He told President George W. Bush at their meeting last week that the success of the peace process could weaken Hezbollah and Hamas, while its failure would strengthen them.
He said relations between Jordan and Israel were good and that he intends to act to speed up joint projects.
Abdullah spoke at the meeting of a new Jordanian initiative to fight anti-Semitism in the Arab world. He said he sent a message to the Muslim states urging them to fight anti-Semitism. He also said Jordan intends to act with Jewish and Christian organizations in the U.S. to quash it. Taking the religious component out of the dispute would reduce the tension and help to find a solution, he added. He said he was appointing his cousin, Prince Ghazi, to head the team to advance interreligious dialogue.
Attending the meeting were representatives of U.S. groups, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, B'nai B'rith, American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Americans for Peace Now and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs.