The region will keep suffering until the world “helps lift the shadow of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—the central issue in the Middle East,” Jordanian King Abdullah II said on Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly.
The king spoke after António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, referred in his opening remarks to “escalating violence and bloodshed in the occupied Palestinian territory” that “is taking a terrible toll on civilians.”
Abdullah also lashed out at Israel in his remarks.
“Seven and a half decades on, it still smolders. Where are we going? Without clarity on where Palestinians’ future lies, it will be impossible to converge on a political solution to this conflict,” he said. “Five million Palestinians live under occupation—no civil rights; no freedom of mobility; no say in their lives.”
The king claimed that whereas Israelis can freely express their national identity, “the Palestinian people are deprived of that same right.”
“The basic requirement for that right is the establishment of their own independent and viable state, on the June 4th, 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living alongside Israel in peace, security and prosperity,” he continued.
The Jordanian monarch said that 2023 has been the deadliest in 15 years for Palestinians. “Delaying justice and peace has brought endless cycles of violence,” he said. “Jerusalem is a flash point for global concern.”
He added that Jordan remains committed to safeguarding Jerusalem’s identity. “But preserving Jerusalem, as the city of faith and peace for Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, is a responsibility that we all share,” he said. “We must not abandon Palestinian refugees to the forces of despair.”
Abdullah called for “sustainable funding” for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East—a body that has been accused of spreading antisemitic teachings.
The Jordanian king said that UNRWA “provides vital relief, education and health services to millions of Palestinian refugees” and is “essential to protect families, keep communities stable and prepare young people for productive lives.”
“We must protect young Palestinians from extremists who prey on their frustrations and hopelessness, by making sure they continue to learn at schools under the blue flag of the United Nations,” he said. “The alternative will be the black flags of terror, hate and extremism.”