This month marks the tenth anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty. The accord was signed by Jordan's King Hussein and Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, both of whom have since died. Adam Ereli is deputy spokesman for the U.S. State Department:
"We take this opportunity to honor the courage and vision of King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin, both of whom dreamed of a better future for the people of the Middle East. Since their courageous and far-sighted step, the Jordanians and Israelis have reaped significant benefits, including increased trade, improved security, and are moving forward down the path of mutual understanding."
Mr. Ereli says the anniversary "is also a good opportunity to look ahead and to reiterate our aspiration for a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors, as well as with the Palestinians." The U.S., he says, remains committed to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, "living side by side in peace and security."
This week, the Israeli parliament voted in favor of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for Gaza disengagement. Mr. Ereli says the plan "offers real opportunity for progress and a return to the political process":
"Israeli disengagement from Gaza, if done in a way consistent with the road map [peace plan] and with the support of the international community, has the potential to move both parties closer to a realization of [President Bush's] two-state vision."
Much work remains to be done. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says that Mr. Sharon "appears sincere in his desire to get a political agreement with his government to get out of the twenty-three [Israeli] settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank." But, he says, there has been "a great deal of difficulty in coming up with a negotiating partner for the Israelis among the Palestinians." For its part, says State Department deputy spokesman Ereli, the U.S. "will continue to work with all the parties of goodwill [in the Middle East] to expand the just, lasting, and mutually beneficial peace that Jordan and Israel have achieved."