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In this speech to the European Parliament, King Hussein speaks about a number of important issues, including the peace process, his hopes for Jerusalem, the upcoming Amman Economic Summit and the Barcelona Conference, sponsored by the European Union. The monarch recounts the impact of Europe on the Middle East, specifically the drawing of borders and the disruption of social and economic patterns in the region after World War I, and the birth of Israel due to the catastrophe Jews suffered in Europe during World War II. He describes the current peace process as the best way to achieve true security and prosperity for the peoples of the region, while realizing the legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

The king calls for an end to the suffering of the people of Iraq, who have “been imprisoned for years by an international embargo and have endured for far too long the absence of democracy, pluralism and human rights.” His Majesty also states categorically that he has no personal ambition in Iraq, and he encourages a free dialogue between the three major groupings of Iraqis—Sunnis, Shi’as and Kurds—to “achieve a national reconciliation.”


Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe


Strasbourg, France

September 25, 1995


Mr. President of the Parliamentary Assembly,

Mr. President of the Committee of Ministers,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished Members of the Parliamentary Assembly,

It is both a privilege and a pleasure to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It offers me the occasion to share my thoughts with you on relations between Europe and my country, about what they have been in the past, and what we hope they will become in the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend, Miguel Angel Martinez, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, for inviting me to address this distinguished body, and for his leadership and contribution to Euro-Mediterranean understanding.

Over the recent years, much has changed in the Middle East. On balance, the changes have been positive. Although the consequences of past events are still with us, there are new factors of maturity, realism, determination and vision which brighten our horizons.

It is perhaps too early to assess the impact of Europe on our region in the twentieth century. We are still experiencing the consequences of two devastating European wars and their repercussions on our lives. The major consequence of the First World War was a new map of our region drawn up by the victors. This map drew frontiers where there were none before, established a number of new states, and disrupted patterns of economic, social and family life which had formed through four centuries of Ottoman rule.

In our case, the dislocation of our former status took the form of a separation between the two sides of the River Jordan, which geographically and historically formed the Holy Land. The truncation of the Holy Land, and its political separation from its northern extensions to Lebanon and Syria, was carried one step further with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Into the former cohesion of our social, economic and cultural life was introduced a new element. Growing tensions between the incoming settlers and the indigenous population led to war, the mass displacement of the Palestinian people and the festering of political and ideological extremism which has plagued the entire Middle East for decades.

My grandfather King Abdullah, and my great-uncle King Feisal of Syria and, later, Iraq, had hoped that the aspirations of the Arab inhabitants of the lands liberated during the Great Arab Revolt of 1916, and of the Jewish settlers in Palestine, might be compatible, provided certain conditions could be satisfied.

This was not to be. Rivalries and suspicions between the players in our region, and the catastrophic situation of the Jews of Europe, combined to end the dream of my forefathers. The unity of the Arab lands was frustrated, and the Jewish state of Israel was born in violence.

This was the situation which I inherited when I acceded to the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and which has challenged us for more than forty years. It was clear to me that my duty was to exert every possible effort to spare my people the suffering and cruelty of war and to bequeath them a legacy of peace.

On October 26, 1994, when Jordan and Israel signed their peace treaty, we did not make peace only with Israel: We also made it with ourselves, confident in our belief that this was the only way we could break out of the cycle of violence which has devastated our lands and our peoples. Our vision and purpose in making peace with Israel was not just to end the state of war. The equation of “no war and no peace,” which had defined the relations of Jordan and other Arab states with Israel for twenty-five years, had proved futile.

We decided to make a warm peace with Israel—a peace which makes it possible for our two peoples to breach the fears which separated them for too long; to do business; to make friends with each other if they wish; to benefit from what each has to offer; and to work together to create a better life for themselves and for all those who live in the same region and share the same hopes.

The Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty marked the end of one period in our history and the dawning of another. It is the first step towards the restoration of harmony in the Holy Land, which God ordained, but which man disrupted. The benefits to both parties are equally beneficial: Jordan, which had been virtually landlocked, now, once again, has access to the Mediterranean. Israel, now, can also look beyond the previous confines to live in a region of peace.

But in making peace with Israel, and in determining to live with Israel on terms of mutual trust, security and cooperation, we did not forget or neglect the other vital component of the Holy Land—that of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights on their own land.

We believe that the Palestinian people have the right, in this new era of peace, to enjoy the same security and the same hoped-for prosperity on their own land. We will continue to support them, as we have through all these years, in all their legitimate goals, and in all their legitimate activities.

The realization of the Palestinians’ rights to self-determination, to return or compensation, and to a decent life, are legitimate aims. We share with them many other concerns such as access to water, the environment, the settlement of the problem of their refugees and displaced populations. And we share with them, and not only with them, our concern for the future of Holy Jerusalem.

For members of the three Abrahamic faiths on every continent, the old city of Jerusalem is the goal of pilgrimage and a pole of prayer. Mosques, churches and temples each bear witness to the central place of the holy city in the thoughts and visions of believers around the world. It has always been our hope that Holy Jerusalem will not be a cause for conflict, but a platform for reconciliation. Its history should never again be “liberation” for some, and “loss” for others. Its rightful place in history is where the three faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—converge, and where sovereignty is God’s alone.

I do not believe that the problem of Jerusalem presents an insurmountable difficulty. The greater city of Jerusalem can be the capital of both the State of Israel and Palestine. Jerusalem should be a shining symbol and the essence of peace forever between Palestinians and Israelis as well as all the followers of the three great monotheistic religions.

The Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty is, we hope, a historic step in the construction of a new era of peace in the Middle East. Our peace with Israel is comprehensive insofar as it removes all subjects of contention between us. Yet, to be comprehensive on the scale of the whole region, there is still a way to go.

Peace is not just the signing of treaties. The signatories must have a genuine commitment to all that peace implies: the free movement of people, goods and ideas across frontiers; the shared commitment to resolve common problems, and to respect one another’s interests. There must be a shared consensus of common values, respect for human rights and basic freedoms, equality between all citizens, and, above all, the right of children to food, clothing, education and freedom from fear.

What is the real purpose of peace? In our view, it is to promote the security and the prosperity of peoples. Without security, there can be no assured prosperity. And without prosperity, there can be no assured security. In the modern history of the Middle East, there have been many attempts to erect security systems and arrangements, either between external powers and regional states, or between regional states themselves. None of these arrangements were effective in preventing wars and conflicts in the Middle East.

In that nightmare scenario between the invasion of Kuwait and the end of the war in the Gulf, I did my best to convince the international community to help us to contain and solve the problem within an Arab context. I was not successful, and the sequence of events before, during, and after the war confirmed my worst fears.

The security of the supply of oil was, at least temporarily, assured. But the security of the region was seriously jeopardized. The continued destabilization of Iraq does not contribute to stability, security or peace in the Middle East. On the contrary, it poses a serious threat to them all. We cannot look with indifference as the plight of the people of Iraq grows more and more tragic with every renewal of the Security Council’s imposition of sanctions. As their misery increases, I cannot, nor can any Jordanian or other Arab family, sleep comfortably in our beds with the spectre of the sick and hungry children of Iraq before our eyes.

I wish to state categorically, against all rumors, fears and speculation that, as a Hashemite, I personally have no ambition in Iraq. Yet, I can no longer turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the anguish and needs of the people of Iraq. They have been imprisoned for years by an international embargo and have endured for far too long the absence of democracy, pluralism and human rights. All the Iraqi people, all the Arab states, together with the international community, must join together to bring an end to all the causes of Iraqi suffering and denial, both internally and externally.

I stand firmly for the preservation for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. I would encourage and support an immediate free dialogue between the credible representatives of the three major elements that comprise the people of Iraq, namely the Sunni and Shi’a Arabs, and the Kurds, to achieve a national reconciliation. This would remove the fears and suspicions which have shattered their relations and threatened their future.

I would offer them all my support, and I implore them to engage in a serious dialogue to formulate a new constitution defining their respective aspirations and rights, within the context of their one country of Iraq, based on democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 1948, Jordan has had to assume extraordinary burdens such as three sudden and massive waves of refugees, and the repeated disruption of our economy. These have severely strained our limited financial, social and institutional resources.

In the last quarter of 1995, an opportunity will be available to the governments and institutions of Europe to take part in the construction of a new Middle East. The Middle East/North Africa Summit to be held in Amman on the 29th of October this year will attempt to translate into concrete economic terms some of the ideas and aspirations of the Casablanca Economic Summit which preceded it last year.

A further “window of opportunity” will be the Barcelona Conference scheduled for November of this year, the main theme of which will be a Euro-Mediterranean partnership. We hope that the Barcelona Conference, which Jordan will attend, will pay special attention to the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. This area is the natural bridge between Europe and the Middle East. The conference can open a door for Europe into a region of vast natural resources, and important markets. And it can open a window for our region onto the economic and financial landscape of Europe.

The choice of Amman for the second Middle East/North Africa Conference reflects, I believe, a growing consensus among international financial institutions and business corporations that Jordan now offers a favorable location and climate for public funding and private investment in projects on both the Jordanian and the regional scene.

Jordan’s treaty of peace with Israel paves the way for the emergence of a new and potentially powerful economic bloc, which would include Palestine and Egypt. Projects involving the cooperation of these four entities will be presented at the Amman Summit. We hope that these will ultimately provide examples for other Middle East countries of the benefits of cooperative and integrated development and the tangible rewards of peace.

Such a bloc would provide markets, manpower, and technological resources which would attract not only European, American and Asian investment, but also some of the Arab capital, private and public, which now finds havens outside the region.

Jordan will continue its endeavor to create a model of social, political and economic stability which, we hope, will act as a positive example. The Jordanian National Charter, ratified in 1991, reflects a Jordanian consensus for democracy, pluralism, basic freedoms, gender equity, human rights, and a free market economy. Since the adoption of the National Charter, successive Jordanian governments have sought to implement its tenets into the daily life of our people. We believe that we have the ability, the will and the experience to generate from our own resources a momentum which will transform a developing country into a developed one and to set a dynamic example in our region. The support and the investments we seek are the sparks needed to drive the great human potential of our region. Europe and our region are extensions of one another. We invite you to join us to further and deepen the ancient bonds between us, and together to build the better world we seek.

As I leave you today, my friends, I am happy to announce that I am heading to the United States, at the invitation of President Clinton, to attend the ratification of yet another agreement between the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the Prime Minister of Israel. It is truly another important breakthrough on the road to a comprehensive Middle East peace—the result of negotiations and commitment to the cause of peace, and we praise the efforts of all who contributed to its achievement.

Thank you and God bless your worthy endeavors.

Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, France

September 25, 1995