King warns of dire consequences
if extremists, on both sides, win

AMMAN (Petra) - His Majesty King Hussein Tuesday warned that extremists on both the Israeli and Arab sides would push the region towards a new catastrophe with devastating consequences like those that befell the Arabs in past wars.

"The minority who are committing acts of terror these days - on the Israeli or Arab side - are driving the region towards a new catastrophe, with the West Bank and Gaza inhabitants being the victims," said the King in an address to a public rally held in Jerash and attended by Her Majesty Queen Noor, Prime Minister Abdul Salam Majali and senior officials and local dignitaries.

The King asked "Do these terrorist acts, which are designed to bring about a repetition of the tragedies of l948 and l967 serve our security, our rights and our homeland?"

"We are for a just, comprehensive and honourable peace which will help the Palestinian people regain their rights on their national soil, not another catastrophe that would result in the Palestinians having a substitute homeland on other countries' lands," the King asserted.

"Do the acts of terrorism serve our security, our homeland and our rights?

Can Jordan absorb additional hundreds of thousands of migrants or refugees at a time when we lack enough water to the present population? Do acts of terror represent a manifestation of patriotism?" asked the King.

"We have to think about the present situation with a strategic vision, a vision towards the future and ask where do these acts lead us," added the King who stressed the need for strengthening national unity and working together for the benefit of future generations.

Referring to domestic issues, the King warned against those who exploit their positions, or political parties or groups for their own selfish interests.

"In our democratic life and political pluralism we open the door for all to think of ways to enhance the democratic life but we cannot accept the idea of persons exploiting their affiliation to certain parties or groups and exploit people, neither can we accept or allow such persons to act upon directions from outside the country," stressed the King.

"Those who feel that they want to take pride in Islam and to be true Muslims should join us so that we can all serve this faith as best as we can and carry out our duty in defending the religion," the King said.

"We consider the citizens of this country - Muslims and Christians alike - to have equal rights and we all form a united family," said the King who added that Islam is an extension to the other monotheistic faiths.

King Hussein referred to the peace process saying that "Jordan opted for peace because peace is at the heart of our religion. But we seek a just and honourable peace, a peace that guarantees the rights of the Palestinians in returning to their homeland and to receiving compensation."

Referring to the l997 elections, King Hussein said that all Jordanians of various origins have the right and are duty-bound to take part in the coming elections and in choosing their representatives to the l3th Parliament.

"We cannot accept a situation whereby some people vote for a number of persons and others are allowed only to vote for only one or two. This is chaos that we cannot accept because it contravenes the provisions of the Constitution," added the King.

At the outset of his visit to Jerash, King Hussein laid the foundation stone for a traditional handicraft market set up on 800 square metres.

The new market, which is being built by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, will provide service to the tourists who buy souvenirs and support local people who make them.