King Abdullah II of Jordan addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday with a speech consisting largely of rhetorical questions designed to stress the importance of global issues such as climate change, economic disparities, terrorism, and especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he said can only be resolved by giving the Palestinians their own state.
“What will our future look like if millions of the world’s young people continue to be denied the rich fruits of new technology and global wealth?” Abdullah asked. “Can we afford to ignore the crisis of exclusion? Or will we do the right thing, support the energies and talents of all the world’s youth, and drive all economies forward through fair and inclusive global growth?”
Abdullah said that “water-scarce countries like Jordan already know the dangers of climate change” and said “a global crisis demands global action.”
“Why in the 21st Century are crises still displacing millions of people across our world?” he asked. “There are more forced displacements today than at any time since World War Two. What will tomorrow’s world look like if we do not help end these crises, and give refugees and hosts alike the support they need to meet the future?”
“How is it that today people can still be disrespected and victimized for their faith?” Abdullah wondered. “Atrocities at mosques, churches, synagogues, and temples have shocked the conscience of the world – but so should the dark criminal ideas from across the ideological spectrum that drive these and other attacks. Hard work by all of us is needed to defeat these groups and their message of hate and mistrust.”
Abdullah stressed the importance of giving “young men and women everywhere a stake in a positive future” to immunize them against the lure of extremist ideologies.
“The forces of violence seek out the vulnerable and excluded,” he said. “Can we afford to abandon the world’s young people to extremism and despair?”
The Jordanian king asserted that no crisis has done more damage to the stability of the entire world than the “core conflict of my region, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
“Neither side has achieved the durable peace that a secure future depends on,” he lamented. “Regional and world stability has continued to pay the price.”
“It is a terrible irony that the land holy to three faiths – faiths that share the great commandment to love one’s neighbor – should ever be a place of conflict. This is the land where prophets walked, the land where generations of Muslims, Christians, and Jews have sought to live in obedience to God, teaching their children compassion, mercy, and respect for others. Segregation, forced displacement, violence, and mistrust do not belong in this holy land,” he said.
Having said that, Abdullah proceeded to inveigh against the “occupation” (the Israelis) without a word of criticism for the actions of the Palestinians.
“40 years ago, my father – his late majesty King Hussein, who loved peace – stood in this very chamber and decried the occupation and attempts, in his words, ‘to eradicate from the world’s memory centuries of history, and tradition, and spiritual, moral, and cultural ideals,’” Abdullah said.
“It is a global moral tragedy that the occupation continues. No occupation, no displacements, no acts of force can erase people’s history, hopes, or rights, or change the true heritage of our shared values among the three monolithic faiths. And nothing can take away the international rights of the Palestinian people to equality, justice, and self-determination,” he said to applause from the audience.
“Young people ask me, why does not the world stand up for Palestinian rights?” Abdullah said. “Isn’t it time to answer them by showing that global justice and human rights belong to them too? It begins with respect for the holy sites and rejecting all attempts to alter the legal status of East Jerusalem and the authentic historic character of the holy city Jerusalem.”
“What lessons do we teach young people when armed personnel enter Al-Aqsa Mosque even as Muslim worshipers gather to pray?” he said.
“As a Hashemite custodian, I am bound by a special duty to protect Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, but all of us have a stake and a moral obligation to uphold religious freedom and human rights. So let us safeguard the holy city for all humanity as a unifying city of peace,” he urged.
Abdullah said that only a “two-state solution” using the “June 4, 1967 lines” as borders could create a “just, lasting, and durable peace” between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“The two-state solution is the only genuine solution, because what is the alternative? One state, segregated, with unequal laws dependent on force, betraying the deepest values of the good people on both sides? That is a formula for enduring conflict, not a path to security, stability, and peace,” he warned.