One of the most momentous declarations to come out of the Arab world since Israel's inception in 1948 is the Arab Peace Initiative, launched in March 2002 in Beirut, Lebanon, and re-adopted by the Arab League in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March 2007. It would be tragic to allow the Initiative to languish as it offers a solid promise for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. Moreover, the Arab Peace Initiative has the potential to tackle the extremism that has engulfed the Middle East to the detriment of both Israel and the Arab states.
Essentially, the Initiative calls on Israel to agree to full withdrawal from the territories occupied since 1967; to arrive at a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, and to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as the capital. The demands made by the Arab Peace Initiative can be fully reconciled with Israel's core requirements for peace, which are: 1) ensuring Israel's national security and territorial integrity, 2) sustaining Israel's Jewish national identity, 3) securing the unity of Jerusalem as Israel's capital while accommodating the Palestinian demands, and 4) establishing normal relations with the entire Arab world. Failure to embrace the Initiative by Israel and the new US administration will send a dangerous message that neither country is fully invested in ending the debilitating 60-year old Arab-Israeli conflict.
This essay has been published in various forms by the following journals:
American Diplomacy – July 2008
The Globalist – July 2008
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Journal – Aug 2008
Strategic Insights – September 2008
International Journal on World Peace – December 2008