Arab governments are watching closely for expressions of support from President Bush at a White House meeting Thursday with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
The visit makes up for a postponement April 21 by the king amid Arab anger over Bush’s endorsement of Israel’s retention of some Jewish population clusters on the West Bank as part of any settlement with the Palestinians.
Jordan, which lost the West Bank and east Jerusalem when it joined other Arab countries in war with Israel in 1967, has long given up any interest in getting the West Bank back from Israel.
Instead, Jordan wants all of the land turned over to the Palestinian Authority to be part of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.
Peace treaty signed in 1994
The Arab kingdom signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 under Abdullah’s late father, King Hussein. It followed the groundbreaking treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979.
In the days leading up to Abdullah’s visit, Jordanian and Bush administration officials discussed the king’s request for a written statement that Palestinians who have lost homes and land would be compensated as part of an overall agreement with Israel.
Administration officials said Wednesday the idea remained under consideration. On Wednesday, Powell said without elaboration, “I think the king will be pleased.”
He also told reporters that Israel ultimately would approve a proposal by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw all Israeli troops and all 7,500 Jewish settlers from Gaza and to pull back on the West Bank, as well.
Sharon's party rejected plan
Sharon’s Likud party rejected the plan in a nonbinding referendum on Sunday.
But Powell said among Israelis, there is an 80 percent approval rating for the proposal. He said Bush’s endorsement of the Sharon plan helped generate the support.
Powell has described the plan as an opportunity for the Palestinians to begin taking over land held by Israel and to establish a state on it.
But Arab and European governments have criticized Bush for supporting Sharon on keeping some West Bank population centers and for agreeing that Palestinians who claim their families were expelled from Israel at its founding in 1948 do not have a right to return there.