Arab Peace Initiative

Proposed by His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Peace Initiative is adopted by the Arab League summit in Beirut on March 28, 2002 (Resolution No. 221). It is then reactivated unanimously by the Riyadh summit five years later.

The Arab States offer peace and normalization of their relations with Israel in exchange for a return to the 4 June 1967 borders, including the territory of the Golan. They demand the implementation of Resolutions 242 and 338 of the Security Council by Israel, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and a solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees (according to Resolution 194 of the Security Council). This initiative is based on two principles: that of « land for peace », and the one that peace and security can not be achieved by military force.

Israeli Reactions

In 2002, Israeli reactions were very limited. Ariel Sharon had not expressed that on April 8 before the Knesset in order to emphasize the positive elements of the proposal and had expressed readiness to negotiate with Arab leaders accountable. Only a few people left, as Motti Steinberg then – principal analyst Shin Beth – believed that Israel must seize this opportunity. In addition, this proposal coincide with a suicide bombing claimed by Hamas led to 29 civilian deaths in Netanyah.

The Israeli authorities seem to be more enthousiastic about the reactivation of the Arab peace initiative in March 2007, but not enough to plan negotiations on this basis. The most controversial point is the implementation of Resolution 194 of the Security Council on the right ofReturn. A meeting was however held between a delegation of the Arab League (composed of the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Jordan) and the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in July, which is already a big step.

International Reactions

Guests at the summit in Riyadh in March 2007, the new Secretary-General of the UN Ban-Ki Moon said that this summit was the most important of recent years. He also used his influence to encourage Israelis and Arabs to negotiate.

The Arab Peace Initiative is also mentioned in the final declaration of the conference in Annapolis in November 2007. The President GW Bush supported the role that the Arab states should play in the revivial of the peace process, and already congratulated for the reactivation of their Peace Initiative, as well as their presence in the conference.

Like the Israeli Motti Steinberg, many regional analysts believe that Israel has missed a chance by not accepting the Arab peace initiative. The problem is that the Arab states presented it as a non-negotiable offer, while Israel envisages it as a first step towards negotiations. The parts on the status of Jerusalem or Palestinian refugees are still far from being accepted as such by Israel.