The Arab Peace Initiative
is being touted as a wonder working panacea for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
. It is at the center of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority
and by various US peace activists and Palestinian sympathizers.
The good news about this plan is that for the first time in history, the states of the Arab League
indicated a willingness to have "normal" relations with Israel
. This was a tremendous psychological breakthrough, especially considering that the plan originated with the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Consider these remarks by King ibn Saud in 1937:
'Our hatred for the Jews dates from God's condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus Christ), and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa (Jesus).
''We Arabs have been the traditional friends of Great Britain for many years, and I, Bin Sa'ud, in particular have been your Government's firm friend all my life, what madness then is this which is leading on our Government to destroy this friendship of centuries, all for the sake of an accursed and stiffnecked race which has always bitten the hand of everyone who has helped it since the world began.
.Some Israeli officials have expressed cautious support for the plan recently, but in the past, attempts to make concrete progress with this plan have ended in nothing, indicating the major weaknesses of the plan. Israeli officials who wanted to discuss the plan were told by Arab representatives that there is nothing to discuss. Israel must accept the plan first, even without understanding it, and then there could be talks: Unconditional surrender. Moreover, there is no guarantee that even after Israel completes all that is required of the plan, it will be granted recognition by any Arab state. This was made abundantly clear at a press conference by Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia with Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League. According to the statement, as released by the Saudi Press Agency:
ON THE ARAB SUMMIT NOT HAVING FIXED A DATE FOR THE PEACE INITIATIVE, PRINCE SAUD SAID THE ARAB LEADERS HAVE DECLARED A CLEAR-CUT INITIATIVE.
HE SAID THE ARAB STATES WILL SIGN A PEACE AGREEMENT WITH ISRAEL WHEN IT CONCLUDES ITS NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PARTIES WHOSE LANDS IT IS OCCUPYING, ADDING THAT THERE IS NO FIXED DATE FOR SUCH A DEVELOPMENT...
In those circumstances, Israel would have to "leave it." In return for peace, the plan states for example for the following:
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
. Resolution 194 states that all refugees willing to live in peace with their neighbors should be able to return. There is no evidence that the Arab Palestinian refugees in Lebanon or those in the Gaza strip are willing to leave in peace with anybody, leave alone Jews. According to the Arab interpretation of the resolution however, the resolution confers on every Arab Palestinian refugee, their descendants, their foreign spouses and anyone who claims to have been a refugee or descendant thereof, the right to "return" to "Palestine" even if they never lived in Palestine. The Palestinian Arab refugees are the only class of refugees in the world to which the UN grants refugee status to children of refugees, or to refugees who were enemy belligerents and their descendants who remain so.
Return of refugees would destroy Israel as a Jewish state, since there are potentially an unlimited number of claimants to refugee status, and since in the best case, it would introduced a highly belligerent population into the state, bent on its destruction.
No place in the Arab Peace Plan does it state that the Arabs countries would undertake to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, or even to admit that there is such a thing as a Jewish people.
The behavior of the Arab states at the Annapolis peace conference was a lot closer to Ibn Saud's original conception of the Jews than to the supposed spirit of the Arab peace initiative. Israeli delegates had to use the service entrance to the conference building, an affront in which the "pro-Israel" US administration acquiesced, and Arabs refused to shake hands with Israelis. An Arab Human Rights charter that is gaining the approval of Arab countries, states in its preamble that it "rejects all forms of Zionism and Racism." The charter was originally supported by the UN's Louise Arbour, but she has had second thoughts.
In the best case, the Arab Peace Initiative is meant as a mind changer in the Arab world. By thinking out of the box, the Saudis seek to regain leadership of the Arab world. If they can get peace in the Middle East and retrieve the Golan Heights for Syria, they become the "go to" country in the Middle East for all the Arabs, and for the United States as well. With the Israeli-Palestinian issue off the table, they can present a united front in dealing with Iran and the challenge posed by Shia Islam. The Saudis, on the face of it, have a genuine interest in the success of the peace initiative, as do the Egyptians and the Jordanians, client states of the United States who have signed peace treaties with Israel. But the initiative is designed intentionally to be ambiguous. Other Arab states can accept it as a means of carrying on the fight against the "Zionist Entity" by other means. It is also useful as a weapon in the "peace wars." In this conflict, whoever can show that they are in favor of peace, wins an advantage, even if their proposals are hollow. The principle involved is to make a plan that looks quite a lot like a peace plan, but is certainly going to be rejected by the other side, so that the other side will be embarrassed and shown up as an "obstacle to peace."
The Arab League has no binding authority over its member states. They have offered no mechanism for implementing the plan. Their stated position is that Israel must first fulfill all the conditions and then the individual states will (or will not) grant recognition to Israel, depending on whether they believe Israel has implemented the conditions, on the weather in Riyadh and the moods of Muammar Kaddafi, dictator of Libya. The Arab League is Arab, and not Muslim, a distinction that seems to escape many people. Therefore, the statement that the plan would bring Israel recognition by 57 Muslim states, which appears in many newspapers, is nonsensical. Iran, for example, is a Muslim country, but it is NOT a member of the Arab League. It frequently is in opposition to the Arab League. Iran controls Hamas, Hezbollah the Islamic Jihad and probably the Popular Resistance Committees, all groups opposed to any sort of two state solution and to the very existence of Israel. It is not likely they will be joining in the Arab peace plan any time soon.
The Palestinian Authority placed advertisements in Israeli newspapers to "explain" the plan to Israelis, as if we didn't understand what it means and does not mean. A juicy canard in the London Times claimed that US President elect Barack Obama supports the Arab Peace Plan and wants to force it on Israel, but this was quickly denied by Dennis Ross.
U.S. pressure on Israel is never good for Israel, and pressure to accept the Arab peace plan "as is" would be contrary to the interests of the United States and certainly contrary to the interests of Israel, which is not interested in committing suicide. Curiously, M.J. Rosenberg, who places himself in the Zionist camp, has "advised" President-elect Obama that the first thing he has to do is adopt the Arab Peace initiative and ram it down Israel's throat. Suppose Israel would propose a plan whereby all the Arab states sign peace treaties with Israel first, and then Israel will negotiate withdrawal from occupied territories? Would M.J. Rosenberg consider that a plan that should be adopted by the United States? Suppose the Israeli plan added that each oil rich Arab state must accept millions of Christian immigrants as citizens, as well as paying compensation to all the Jewish refugees from Arab countries?
The United States doesn't have to have a policy about a peace initiative that is addressed to Israel. It is never a good idea to volunteer. Israel, however, must have a policy about the Arab peace initiative. Those tempted to "just say no" should think again. There might be an opportunity to change hearts and minds here - a long shot. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's peace initiative was incredible as well, but it turned out to be fairly real, though defective in implementation. Even on the supposition that the Arab peace initiative is a total fraud, it has achieved such prominence that it cannot be ignored. Peace with our Arab neighbors has always been a number one goal of Zionism and the hope for peace must not be abandoned. Without peace, there is no long term future for Israel in the Middle East. Perhaps Israel should accept the spirit of the initiative and ask for clarifications. In that spirit, the editors of the Jerusalem Post, acknowledging the deficiencies of the Arab initiative, wrote:
Still, most of us, though disappointed that an offer which falls so short of Israel's minimal needs comes so late, will find themselves agreeing with President Shimon Peres: This is an overture worth exploring.
After so much bloodshed and suffering on both sides, we implore the Arab and Muslim world: Let us not make propaganda. Let us not wait another 60 years. Let us make peace.
Or perhaps, instead of these vague pronouncements, Israel should daily offer peace, loud and clear.Each day, the Israel Foreign Ministry should call upon the Arabs to clarify the conditions of the initiative, to set a date for a peace conference that will allow the exploration of the initiative, rather than vaguely calling for exploration. We should not let this issue alone for a day. The world must see our dedication to peace. Muammar Ghaddafi and Bashar Assad are all invited to recognize the right of self determination of the Jewish people and our right to a Jewish state, as we have, in the various agreements, recognized the right of the Palestinian Arabs to their Arab state. If the Arabs are sincere they will answer the call. Muammar and Bashar and Abdullah are all invited to break bread and to shake hands and we shall go forward to a bright future together. Perhaps it will happen. The entire Middle East will beat their swords into plowshares and their Qassam rockets into mailing tubes, fulfilling the vision of the prophets of old. But what if the Arab states are not sincere? What if they are not willing to shake hands with Jews or to accept the legitimacy of Zionism? What if the lion is not yet ready to lie down with the lamb? In that case, we will have called their bluff in a way that even M. J. Rosenberg can understand.
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Replies: 1 Comment
First "refugee" is only a person who themself was hounded from their home and country as per UNHCR; and not their descendants and spouses born elsewhere.
Second 194 is not unconditional about any of its points.
Third the property of the Jews hounded out of Arab League countries as well as Arab property in Palestine needs reckoning and balancing or write off - and in this respect the USA still has not paid out the loyalists under its obligations under the Peace of Paris 1783 that closed the War of Independence.
Fourth the Syrian frontier with Israel is the Franco-British 1923 Convention and not the slightly Westerly Armistice line of 49 - 67 so Syrian insistance on the 4 June 67 line opens the Green Line to re-negotiation.
Fifth if Lebanon and Syria agree Chaba'a / Sheba Farms is Lebanese then Syria has to deed it to Lebanon and register the Convention at the UN after which case it is no skin off Israel to hand the area to Lebanon. This is a matter of whether Syria recognises Lebanon because if it cannot live with an Arab neighbour it has no bona fides that it can live with Israel.
Sixth similarly if Hannan Ashrawi can admit the rejection of the Peel Report was a mistake (BBC2 Newsnight in Nov or Dec 2000) then the Arabs by way of proving sincerity have to admit: their rejection of UN 181 and their sixty year war on Israel is also a mistake; mark in Israel on their school book and atlas maps as ISRAEL; and stop the media and public speeches insults from preachers and politicians.
Frank Adam, Thursday, November 27th
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