At a summit that is to be held in 3 weeks, the Arab foreign ministers are expected to reiterate their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative announced in Beirut in 2002. Then, the Arab leaders declared
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 (see full text of the initiative).In Ha'aretz today, Akiva Eldar excoriates Israel's leadership for ignoring the Saudi peace plan. The peace initiative, to be sure, is not without flaws. Its provision on the Palestinian refugee problem refers only vaguely to UN Resolution 194. In section 2.II, the initiative calls for the
Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194That UN resolution, which dates to 1948, resolved
that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible (see full text).Needless to say, this is not a tenable option today. Israeli FM Tsipi Livni has been lobbying the Arab leaders to amend this phrasing, but she is the only one who seems to have taken any notice of the upcoming summit to be held on March 28 in Riyadh.
Let us not be mistaken in thinking that the rest of Israel's leadership, most notably Prime Minister Olmert, is ignoring this initiative because it has grasped the strategic ramification such a resolution might have for Israel. There is no evidence that Olmert's inaction is due to any real thinking about or engagement with the future of the State of Israel. Rather, the prime minister is continuing to do what he knows best - bungling his way through office.