The Arab Peace Initiative is our best shot at peace: JPost.com

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by ejazr, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The Arab Peace Initiative is our best shot at peace
    By ALON BEN-MEIR

    Israel cannot dismiss the critical importance of normalizing relations with 340 million Arabs and over a billion non-Arab Muslims.

    Unless an alternative path can be presented, the languishing peace process is headed toward a complete collapse which would usher in a period of unpredictable volatility. To avoid this impending scenario, Israel, the US and the EU need to formally adopt the Arab Peace Initiative as a central framework to achieve comprehensive peace and sustainable regional security.

    No other peace proposal, including the Clinton parameters, Geneva Initiative and the road map, can deliver on both accounts and offer as many common denominators that all parties to the conflict can accept. There are a number of compelling reasons why this is the case, and why a massive effort must now be made to prevent the catastrophic setback which is in the making.

    FIRST, THE API is uniquely comprehensive. It not only covers all of the core issues at the heart of the conflict, but also ends hostilities between Israel and the entire Arab world. The Arab states continued endorsement of this plan despite setbacks in the peace process should not be underestimated, nor should the strategic opportunity it presents and the significance of its far-reaching contents. The initiative not only addresses the core issues of the conflict – namely Jerusalem, borders and refugees, it also calls upon the Arab states to act to “consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region,” as well as “establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.”

    No previous peace effort has been able to make such a claim nor held such promise to implement its stated goals, should it be accepted as a framework for peace by all sides.

    Second, the successful adoption of the API would have a transforming impact on the broader Middle East. Notably, it has been endorsed by the 56 nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

    As Israel is faced with increasing isolation in the international community, it cannot dismiss the critical importance of normalizing relations with the nearly 340 million Arabs and more than a billion non-Arab Muslims.

    The plethora of common interests between Israel and the Arab states – ranging from water desalination to tourism, agriculture to sustainable development and, most recently, the discovery and refining of natural resources – provide a logical foundation for regional cooperation and commercial ties.

    Even if a cold peace emerged, like that with Egypt, mutual interests could abound with possibilities for a bright future of growth, security and stability, rather than conflict.

    THIRD, AN agreement would isolate Iran, serving to stifle, if not end, Teheran’s ambitions to become a regional hegemon equipped with nuclear weapons. While the API has seemingly languished in recent years, it is actually more useful and relevant than ever before. Iran is a threat to both Israel and the Arab states, a fact made ever more clear by the recent WikiLeaks revelations.

    The WikiLeaks disclosure that Lebanese officials provided Israel with guidance on how to combat Hizbullah further indicates that Arab concerns about Iran extend beyond nuclear weapons to its regional influence through its proxies in the Levant.

    Against this backdrop, the Arab states are perhaps more motivated than at any other time to strike a deal. Logic would suggest that Israel should be equally enthusiastic. But if such a deal is not struck soon, and Iran is able to obtain nuclear weapons and entrench its influence throughout the region, it could be too late.

    While the Gulf states already have nascent ties to Israel, and would likely be the first Arab nations to deepen ties upon a successful negotiated agreement, so too would these states be the first to align with Iran if its regional influence is elevated with nuclear arms.

    In this context, the API should be viewed as a survival tool. If Israel does not utilize it – ensuring its own survival and advancing its shared interests with the Arab states – its future could be placed in jeopardy as the Arab states look to other means to advance their national security interests.

    Finally, the API offers many common denominators that all elements of Palestinian and Israeli society could accept with a measure of dignity. Both have expressed a willingness to make compromises for peace. Traditionally right-wing Israelis and even settlers have indicated that they would give more credence to peacemaking efforts if they had confidence an agreement would ensure national security. Even Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal has expressed openness to accepting a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. In an interview this past August he stated, “I am concerned with accomplishing what the Palestinian people are looking for – which is to get rid of the occupation, attain liberation and freedom, and establish the Palestinian state on the lines of 1967.”

    Although his comment is consistent with the API, he has yet to embrace the plan and continues to call for violent resistance. Herein lies the central challenge.

    For Israel, the challenge is to accept the principles of the API as a basis for negotiations, and market the proposal aggressively to its public. Public opinion polls consistently indicate that less than 35 percent of Israelis support the API, illustrating the considerable work that needs to be done to change attitudes. At the same time, Israel should also convince the Arab world that it is serious about a genuine agreement.

    Meanwhile, the Arab League needs to use all means necessary to convince rejectionists to accept the principles of the API in a manner that enables them to support the peace process while saving face. Only when all parties to the conflict join the API will Israel be disavowed of the excuse that there is no partner for peace. Moreover, the Arab states should work to convince Israelis that the API is not a dictate – it was not presented as “take it or leave it” – but rather as a framework for a negotiated agreement.

    In doing so, they need to emphasize the two critical issues: achieving a comprehensive peace and providing for Israel’s national security.

    Translating the API from words into action will require leadership from the Obama administration to officially – and fully – embrace it. Doing so would not represent a drastic shift of strategy.

    US leadership to steer Arabs and Israelis toward this goal could overcome the stalemate that the issue of settlements has generated, while providing a new context for negotiations and confidence- building measures.

    It has been sarcastically said that with the peace process there is only process and no peace. If all of the conflicting parties – with US support and encouragement – agree that the API must become the framework for negotiations, incremental steps ought to be taken to demonstrate their commitment to reaching an agreement.

    Today, as never before, the security concerns of Israel, the Arab states and the US are strategically aligned. Capitalizing on this moment will require genuine leadership to adopt the Arab Peace Initiative as the most effective and prudent formula for ending this conflict.

    The writer is professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    For completeness the Arab peace plan

    Official translation of the full text of a Saudi-inspired peace plan adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut, 2002.

    The Arab Peace Initiative

    The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level at its 14th Ordinary Session,

    Reaffirming the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo Extra-Ordinary Arab Summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a comparable commitment on the part of the Israeli government,

    Having listened to the statement made by his royal highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in which his highness presented his initiative calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel's acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel,

    Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:

    1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.

    2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:

    I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

    II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.

    III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:

    I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

    II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

    4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.

    5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.

    6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.

    7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

    For purposes of comparison, the following is an earlier draft discussed by Arab foreign ministers on 25 March, 2002, in advance of the summit:

    The Council of the Arab League, which convenes at the level of a summit on March 27-28, 2002 in Beirut, affirms the Arab position that achieving just and comprehensive peace is a strategic choice and goal for the Arab states.

    After the Council heard the statement of Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in which he called for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel, and that Israel declares its readiness to withdraw from the occupied Arab territories in compliance with United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 and Security Council resolution 1397, enhanced by the Madrid conference and the land-for-peace principle, and the acceptance of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state with al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital, the Council calls on the Israeli government to review its policy and to resort to peace while declaring that just peace is its strategic option.

    The Council also calls on Israel to assert the following:

    * Complete withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including full withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the remaining occupied parts of south Lebanon to the June 4, 1967 lines.
    * To accept to find an agreed, just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees in conformity with Resolution 194.
    * To accept an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian lands occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and with Jerusalem (al-Quds al-Sharif) as its capital in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1397.

    In return, the Arab states assert the following:

    * To consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over and to enter into a peace treaty with Israel to consolidate this.
    * To achieve comprehensive peace for all the states of the region.
    * To establish normal relations within the context of comprehensive peace with Israel.

    The Council calls on the Israeli government and the Israelis as a whole to accept this initiative to protect the prospects of peace and to spare bloodshed so as to enable the Arab states and Israel to coexist side by side and to provide for the coming generations a secure, stable and prosperous future.

    It calls on the international community with all its organisations and states to support the initiative.

    The Council calls on its presidency, its secretary general and its follow-up committee to follow up on the special contacts related to this initiative and to support it on all levels, including the United Nations, the United States, Russia, the European Union and the Security Council.

    http://www.al-bab.com/arab/docs/league/peace02.htm
     
  4. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Ejaz I think you are giving toomuch credit to the egyptian protests.The only thing i see is mubarak the old horse being replaced by some new horse not much will change on the ground and arabs will be as disunited as ever
     
  5. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Oh no this is nothing to do with Egypt protests, this OpEd a very pro-Israel Jewish American on JPost. Its just something I came across, nothing related to Egypt protests.
     

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