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Arab Summit: New Syrian-Jordan unity

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Jordanian officials say that the detente comes as part of the natural course of things ahead of the summit, at which there will be a renewed attempt at Arab unity on issues such as the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia, which offered Israel recognition in exchange for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

At the summit, a Jordanian government minister said, the Arab world would consider the feasibility of the two-state solution, given the right-wing inclination of the incoming Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu.

"This is part of unifying Arab ranks to see what the political scene in Israel will come up with," says Nabil el-Sharif, the acting foreign minister and the minister of state for media affairs.

"There is definitely some concern in the Arab world after these elections, in that the new government might not be as committed to peace as one would like. [Saudi King Abdullah] has said the Arab Initiative is there, but it will not be on the table forever."

Syria and Jordan have long taken deeply different approaches to the region's conflicts. Hamas has its leadership base in Damascus, but has been all but ejected from Jordan. Most other Palestinian rejectionist groups have offices in the Syrian capital, but are unwelcome here.

In the past few months, however, events may have shifted the dynamic. Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza raised ire across the Arab world and made it more difficult for Jordan to defend its relationship with Israel against critics of normalization with the Jewish state. And President Barack Obama took office, leaving behind the Bush Doctrine, says Amman analyst Mouin Rabbani.

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