Jordan's King Abdullah Open to Constitutional Monarchy

ABDULLAH: Well, I'm honestly trying to do it from the bottom of my heart in the right way. And if you're going to do decentralization, and get a system of government that people can take control of their lives, we do need to be able to reach out to people who've gone through the exercise themselves. Whether we're talking about unions, problems we're having with the production unions at the moment, is something that I gathered you've gone through in the United States. So we're now tackling this issue. What are the experiences that America has gone through? Help us do it. So in other words, if we're reaching out to Europe and to United States, it's to cut the time down. And I don't want a process where we can sit back in our chairs and say, well, the political reform process in Jordan is going to take some time. Help us speed up the process.

JENNINGS: Well, how difficult is it to change a society? Let me put it slightly different to you. How difficult it is to change a society in which the police apparatus, secret police apparatus in many cases, is so pervasive?

ABDULLAH: Well, that is one of the elements that we've been discussing in the national agenda, as well as with the Decentralization Committee is that it's not just enough for the government and civil society to be able to deal with this issue. Police and security apparatuses have also got to be modernized. And again, in these issues, from the practical experience that I've had over the past two years, the leadership is fairly easy to convince. It's having to work down the second, third and fourth level to get the message and to change the way that they're doing business. That's the challenge that we're facing at the moment.

JENNINGS: Let me come back to regional affairs. President Bush would very much like you to help the Palestinian president disarm those people in the Palestinian territories who are not interested in the peace agreement with Israel.


JENNINGS: What can you do for him?

ABDULLAH: Well, we've been working, not just recently but even before the Intifada, with the Israelis and Palestinians to support strengthening Palestinian security services, so that they can bring their society in order and government institutions that are reflective of what we're used to. We did offer the Bardr Brigade to the Palestinians as a well-trained police force to go in there. It seems that the Israelis do not want to do that. That's fine. At the end of the day, we're just trying to think out of the box how to help. But we are instrumental in providing assistance and training, and whatever the Palestinians and Israelis agree to. And it's not just now, it's something that's been going on for many years.

JENNINGS: Do you think that the Israeli government is interested, genuinely interested in getting out of Gaza? Genuinely interested in getting out of the West Bank?

ABDULLAH: I believe from our reports, our discussions with the Israelis that is the case. Our foreign minister just came back from Israel last week and felt the same thing. We want to make sure that obviously the disengagements, whether it's from Gaza and the West Bank are part and parcel of a vehicle that we all understand, which is the road map. That's a vehicle that's been articulated in the international community and the one that we have at the moment to get us to the end game. And I hope that these pulls-outs are part and parcel of that.

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