The future of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace
It’s not a secret that the Arab/Muslim world is deeply divided and bogged down with despotism, terrorism, corruption, economic troubles, internal conflicts – political, ethnic, religious, etc. It seems that the only common denominator there is the hatred of Israel.
Nevertheless, the 2002 Abdullah Plan (announced on the morning after the Passover Massacre) promises the normalization of relations with Israel. Conditions aside, today Haaretz published an atypically sober piece about the prospects of such promises come (and stay) true:
Pieces of a puzzle that do not fit together but are being forced together so some sort of picture can emerge – this is how the Arab League summit in Doha is looking. Host Qatar, is not getting along with Egypt. Jordan is furious with Qatar because Al Jazeera, owned by the emirate’s ruling family, reiterated the claim that the late King Hussein was a CIA agent. Sudan, whose participation was still unclear as of Saturday afternoon because of the international arrest warrant for its president, is trying to rally Arab support. Egypt and Syria are still not reconciled. Saudi Arabia has embarked on a pan-Arab reconciliation effort, but with limited success. The Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, have not reached an agreement. And Iraq is still considered suspicious, in part because it is under Iranian influence. In short, it looks like the Arab Disagreement League.
On the face of it, this scene is not uncommon. It’s a joyous moment for anyone seeking proof of a divided Arab Middle East, in which even the lowest common denominator is being destroyed. But it’s also a scene that should raise thoughts about the concept of the Arab initiative, which passed during the 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut.
At that time the Arab countries unified on an issue they had never been asked to agree on. The enormous efforts of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with cooperation from Jordan and a number of Gulf states, spurred a new sort of Arab unity: to grant Israel security, declare an end to the conflict, and hold diplomatic ties and normalize relations. This would be in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories, the establishment of a Palestinian state and a just solution to the refugee problem. That was the summit that officially replaced the Arab strategic outlook toward Israel formulated at the Khartoum summit in 1967 − the three nos: no recognition, no peace and no negotiations. However, the strategic change the initiative offers depends entirely on across-the-board Arab support. Without it, there is no point.
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