dinsdag 27 maart 2007

Arabische top in teken van Saudische vredesplan

In 2002 heeft de Arabische Liga een plan aangenomen dat Israël vrede biedt in ruil voor terugtrekking uit alle in 1967 veroverde gebieden inclusief de oude stad van Jeruzalem en een 'rechtvaardige oplossing van het vluchtelingenprobleem op grond van VN reslutie 194.' Deze resolutie wordt door de Palestijnen en de Arabische staten uitgelegd als recht op terugkeer van alle vluchtelingen en hun nakomelingen naar Israel. Op de komende top van de Arabische Liga zal dit plan opnieuw worden voorgesteld. Of dit de opmaat naar nieuwe en serieuze vredesbesprekingen kan worden, zal onder andere afhangen van de bereidheid van de Arabische staten om wijzigingen in het voorstel te accepteren en het als openingszet, niet als dictaat, te beschouwen. 
Arabs head to Saudi summit to endorse Mideast peace


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

By Wafa Amr

Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr said on Tuesday the time was right for Arab states and Israel to frame a settlement of their conflict with broad international backing.

Arab leaders arriving in Riyadh were expected to relaunch a peace initiative that offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for full withdrawal from land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel rejected the plan in 2002, but along with the United States has recently shown more interest.

"The time is right to reach a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict," the Palestinian Foreign Minister said. "I think if the relevant parties are serious we have a good plan that can achieve peace and security in the region for all."

Draft resolutions for the March 28-29 summit, hammered out in only a few hours on Monday, are dominated by the Arab-Israeli conflict and appear designed to entice Israel into talks without altering the text of the 2002 peace initiative.

Israel has made clear its objections to some parts, including the proposed full return to 1967 borders, inclusion of East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, in a Palestinian state and demands over the return of Palestinian refugees.

The draft text obtained by Reuters reiterates a call "to all Israelis to accept the initiative and seize the current opportunity to return to the direct and serious negotiating process at all levels."

The text is viewed with caution by more militant groups on the Arab side.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was quoted by Saudi media as urging Arab leaders ahead of the summit not to make concessions on Palestinian refugees.

"Meshaal called on Arab leaders meeting in Riyadh to adopt a strategy based on the right to self-defense," the official Saudi news agency SPA said.

Hamas demands a right to return for all Palestinians and descendants who fled or were driven from what is now Israel during the upheavals of the late 1940s. It has refused to recognize Israel but Palestinian officials say it has agreed not to go against the Arab peace plan during the summit.


The draft resolution sets up a mechanism to promote the peace plan that could pave the way for Arab countries with no ties to Israel to open up their own official diplomatic channels -- a long-time goal of U.S. administrations.

The final draft also avoids any mention of the phrase "right of return" for Palestinian refugees, which Israel has strongly argued against. The Arab peace initiative only talks of a just solution to the refugee question.

The text avoids a clear rejection of the idea of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, which was floated by Washington and is provided for in the peace "road map" set up by the "Quartet" of mediators including the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is to attend the Arab summit, said on Monday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders, along with officials from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, could be invited to attend the next Quartet meeting, expected to take place in Egypt.

A public meeting that brings Israeli and Saudi officials together would be a breakthrough. The countries do not have formal relations, though there are reports of informal contacts.

The summit will also give backing to the Palestinian unity government, which is led by Islamic group Hamas, and encourage the international community to end an embargo on political and financial links with the government.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hammond)

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