Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saudi Peace Revival

Comprehensive peace in the Holy Land? The Associated Press is reporting that senior Israeli officials are giving serious consideration to the six year old Saudi/Arab Peace Initiative. The peace plan was first proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002 and was most recently endorsed by the 22 member Arab League at the Riyadh Summit of March 2007.

The proposal has always been the most extensive peace offered to Israel in its 60 year history. Under the plan, the entire Arab world would "consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended" and "establish normal relations with Israel" in return for a "full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967" and the creation of a Palestinian nation in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Although a serious discussion of the Saudi Peace Initiative within the new Israeli government is a positive step for the region, the elephant in the room will forever be the Palestinian right of return which Israel understandably considers demographic suicide. Additionally, no permanent and meaningful pact can ever be established without the recognition of Israel's right to exist by Hamas and lasting peace within the Palestinian community itself.

(photo credit: Reuters)