Queen Discusses Education and Prospects for Peace in the Middle East with CNN's Wolf Blitzer

April 22, 2009

BLITZER: President Obama met today with Jordan's King Abdullah as the white house announced the new U.S. president is launching an effort to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. His predecessors clearly fell well short of that goal. Can the new president succeed? I spoke earlier with Queen Rania of Jordan.
BLITZER: Your late father-in-law, His Majesty King Hussein, I had the privilege of interviewing him on several occasions. He was a pioneer. He was -- he broke through, made peace with Israel, just like the late Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt did. Is there hope right now?
Because a lot of us who have covered the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for so many years, we just see the same old-same old happening. Are you at all upbeat that this peace process, under the leadership of President Obama, can get off the ground?
HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA: Look, I think that we all know what needs to be done in the Middle East. What has happened is that there has been frustration because of an endless process, an on-again/off-again negotiations that have not reached anywhere.
So this incremental process of process, we need to go -- we need to fast-track -- we need to fast-forward and go from process to the endgame, because without an end in sight, all that is done is fuel frustration...
BLITZER: Is there an end in sight?
HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA:  Of course there's an end in sight, if we have the political will to reach an endgame. So all that is done is to really fuel instability in our region, make people lose hope, and that just serves the extremist ideology in our region.
And we really need to understand that this festering conflict in the Middle East has changed the security dynamic in our region, has changed the ideology that's prevalent in our region, has changed people's -- a lot of people have gone from moderation to extremism as a result.
So it does always feed the extremist agenda. And, you know, at present, Obama's outreach to the Arab world has been very encouraging. He has stated that he wants relations that are based on mutual trust and respect.
He has stated his commitment to a two-state solution. We have yet to hear from the Israeli government the same kind of commitment to a two-state solution.
As you know, there is the Arab peace initiative that is on the table, that has been endorsed by 22 Arab countries which guarantees a two-state solution so it gives the -- it grants the Palestinians their right to statehood and the Israelis security and acceptance in the region.
And at the end of the day, security for Israel has to come from them being accepted regionally and not from conflict or barriers or war.
And for example, the conflict in Gaza that took place earlier this year, all that has done is harden hearts and minds in the region. And all that has done is given the extremists in our region the upper hand and more of a rallying call.
BLITZER: We're out of time, but a quick thought on the new president of the United States, and the new first lady of the United States. Certainly President Obama, as you point out, has reached out.
He has granted interviews to Arabic language television stations. He sent messages. He has got a special envoy, former Senator George Mitchell. How is he seen in Jordan and the Arab World?
HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA:  Well, I think he has been perceived very, very positively. I think he inspires a lot of confidence and a lot of optimism and hope for our region. And people in the Arab world are sitting and waiting to see him articulate his plan for the Arab world.
That said, he has already come up with some good, encouraging signs. But we are waiting to see how on the ground we are going to pursue, and how commitment -- how much commitment is going to be given to the (INAUDIBLE).
I think the core issue in our region is the Middle East conflict. And that's the key to unlocking a lot of the instability that is present in our region.
So people are optimistic. He certainly has a lot of credibility in the Arab world. And he has political capital, and I hope that he can expend that in the issues that really matter to us.
BLITZER: I know you and His Majesty King Abdullah are going to your best to try to help him get peace in the Middle East.
HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA:  Absolutely, because I think that's the one thing that we can give the rest of the world that will benefit us for many, many generations to come.
BLITZER: Good luck.