This interview was broadcast on the American ABC television network on the same day that Jordan and Israel signed their peace treaty. Although brief, the interview provides some background on the circumstances that led to the signing of peace with Israel, as well as King Husseins views concerning opposition to the treaty.
ABC World News Tonight
Interviewer: Peter Jennings
October 24, 1994
Peter Jennings: Should this peace agreement with Israel have happened sooner and why had it not?
King Hussein: I believe that the speed with which we have achieved our objective and the efficiency is an indication that it could have happened a long time ago had we taken a different approach.
Peter Jennings: And why, what was the failing earlier do you think?
King Hussein: I think the failing earlier, throughout the tragic history of this region, in the past and then looking into the future, was the lack of ability of vision amongst leaders in this entire region. I think the Palestinians suffered from that. I think that the Arabs suffered from that. I believe that the Cold War may have had an impact on the area. A whole variety of reasons caused us to lose so many opportunities and chances. But finally we are there.
Peter Jennings: I would like to try to capture a little bit of whats in your heart and Im not quite sure how. When you called Her Majesty or when you told the family what had happened, how did you express yourself?
King Hussein: I said I have some wonderful news: weve made it. And it was early in the morning, after a long night where we went through everything that had been agreed upon and we modified and adjusted things to the point where we achieved mutual satisfaction. And I felt on top of the world really, both then and now.
Peter Jennings: President Asad of Syria, as you know, is quite critical of the lease-back arrangement youve reached with the Israelis by which Israeli settlers remain on Jordanian territory. What do you tell him?
King Hussein: I tell him its none of his business, with all due respect. This is a Jordanian matter and I hope that he will be able to address his own dimension of his responsibilities as well. But there is nothing of which we are ashamed, nothing over which we are concerned in the least. We have returned our sovereignty over every inch of our territory and that is the way it stands. So I was really surprised that people began to make comments before even reading the text of the treaty.
Peter Jennings: What are the factors on the horizon that worry you? Muslim extremism?
King Hussein: Muslim extremism? I am a true Muslim and I know what my religion is and I know what my faith is, and I know it is entirely different to what some choose to portray as Islam. If there are elements that are willing to ride the wave for political gains, so it is a question of a few here and there. They could create problems I suppose, but . . .
Peter Jennings: But there are, there are people, there are extremists in the region who do not like the way history is being written at the moment by you and the Israelis, and even to some extent, the chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat. How seriously should their determination to disrupt all this be taken?
King Hussein: I think that anyone in a position of responsibility, and people in Jordan, I hope, will take this seriously. And the only answer I can give you is that one has to fear something in life. I fear God. I dont fear man and I fear my conscience above everything else. And Im fulfilling my duty towards my people. I believe I have the overwhelming support of the Jordanian people.