AMMAN — Jordan's King Abdullah II told the foreign ministers of France and Spain on Monday that Europe has a key role to play in the Middle East, after the pair were snubbed by their Israeli counterpart.
"Europe plays a key role in supporting peace efforts to overcome problems facing the Palestinian-Israeli talks," the king told France's Bernard Kouchner and Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain at a meeting.
"A suitable environment should be created to ensure the resumption of the peace talks. Failing to achieve tangible progress in the peace process will increase regional conflicts, tension and violence," he said, according to a palace statement.
Kouchner and Moratinos also met separately with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the Jordanian capital as Europe seeks to enhance its role in the US-led deadlocked peace process.
"The purpose of our visit is to focus on the actual day by day difficulties in order to serve and help and be open enough to play the role of the friends of Israel and friends of Palestinians," Kouchner told reporters after the meeting.
"Yesterday we were with our friends the Israelis. The differences of perception are obvious but we have to overcome that."
Kouchner and Moratinos met on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who reportedly told them to mind their own business.
"Before coming here to tell us how to solve our conflicts, I would expect you could have at least solved all the problems within Europe," Lieberman told his guests during a dinner in a widely published outburst.
Speaking to reporters, Moratinos said Israel recognised Europe was playing a growing role in efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict.
"If we didn't have a role, if we didn't have any weight, if we didn't have any influence, maybe our friend Lieberman wouldn't have reacted as he did," Moratinos said.
Kouchner said that although Europe did not have the same level of involvement as the United States, it had managed to successfully resolve centuries of conflict.
"Yes, we have problems in Europe. But it is also an example of problem solving," he said, noting Europe comprised of 27 countries "who were at war for centuries but which now get along."
Kouchner also said he was optimistic about the resolution of an impasse over renewed Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, which is threatening to bring down fresh peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Sunday, the minister told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam that France preferred a two-state solution to be negotiated with Israel but an appeal to the UN Security Council to resolve the conflict remained a possibility.
"We want to be able to soon welcome the state of Palestine to the United Nations. This is the hope and the desire of the international community, and the sooner that can happen the better," he said.
"The international community cannot be satisfied with a prolonged deadlock. I therefore believe that one cannot rule out in principle the Security Council option," he added.
"But the establishment of the Palestinian state must come as a result of the peace process and be the fruit of bilateral negotiations."
Kouchner and Moratinos called in February for an international summit to recognise a Palestinian state.
But a Western diplomat in Amman told AFP on Monday that "this is a symbolic way to lobby for recognition of a Palestinian state, but it does not resolve the question on the ground."
Israel has rejected Palestinian and international demands to extend a 10-month moratorium on new settler homes that expired last month despite Abbas ruling out any further talks until settlement activity is halted.
"We are doing our utmost with the European Union, the United States, Russia and our Arab brothers in order to push Israel to stop settlement activities to give a chance to direct negotiations," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said at the news conference with Kouchner and Moratinos.
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