Jordanian Minister Avoids Meeting Israeli Counterpart
ALLENBY BRIDGE, West Bank (AP) _ How to divvy up scarce water resources is the main obstacle to reaching an overall peace treaty with Jordan, not territorial disputes, an Israeli government official said Wednesday.
King Hussein has not yet approved a draft peace agreement proposed by Israel for resolving conflicts over water and territory and continues to demand 7 percent of Israel’s current water use, the newspaper Haaretz said Wednesday.
An Israeli government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that water was the main obstacle to signing a peace treaty, not territorial issues.
Other substantial regional issues, such as the status of Jerusalem and the future of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan also must be resolved, the official said.
Meanwhile, a planned meeting between the tourism ministers of Israel, Egypt and Jordan fell flat Wednesday when the Jordanian minister failed to appear.
Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Baram said the Jordanian canceled at the last minute because he did not want to cross the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River, the main frontier crossing from Jordan into the Palestinian self-rule area of Jericho.
Jordan’s tourism minister, Muhammad Adwan, sent a message saying he would not attend the meeting to avoid further rifts with the Palestinians, Baram said.
Israeli-Jordanian peace moves, such as reaffirming King Hussein’s control over the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, have angered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who believes they undermine his authority.
Israeli officials said Adwan proposed meeting Thursday in the Jordanian port of Aqaba, but Baram said it might take longer than a day to arrange.
Baram plans to sign an agreement with Egyptian Tourism Minister Mamdouh El- Beltagy, who did cross from Jordan to establish a resort zone along the Red Sea.