Moscow has no problem adopting the Arab peace initiative on settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, and sees no need to amend it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told TASS after talks the PA FM Riyad al-Maliki on Wednesday. And, apparently, as far as the Russians are concerned, they never heard Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for any amendments to the initiative when he met with President Putin the day before.
“I did not hear any demands for amending the Arab peace initiative in the remarks of Benjamin Netanyahu,” Lavrov said. “It is integral and embraces the entire set of relations between Israel and the Arab countries, including Palestine of course. There is no need to amend it.”
According to Lavrov, the Arab peace initiative is a universal document, which everybody regards as the fitting foundation for a peaceful future between Arabs and Jews.
Also known as the “Saudi Initiative,” the Arab peace initiative is a 10 sentence proposal that was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and then in 2007, calling for normalizing relations between the Arab countries and Israel, in exchange for “(a) Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon; (b) Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194 (which says that ‘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 equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.); (c) Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
In other words, the elimination of the Jewish State as we know it—by the time the last conditions of the initiative were fulfilled.
Perhaps it was symbolic that on the day of the first declaration of the Saudi initiative, March 27, 2002, Hamas committed the Passover Massacre as a suicide bomber killed 30 Israelis and injured more than 170, including children, at the Park Hotel in Netanya.
And yet, in March 2009 US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell announced that President Obama’s administration planned to “incorporate” the initiative into its Middle East policy.
And last year, in May 2015, shortly after winning the March 17 elections, Netanyahu himslef expressed tentative support for the initiative, saying he accepted the “general idea,” but with significant caveats, specifically its calls for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights and the relocation of millions of Arabs into Israel. As to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said it would not be resolved immediately, and so for now “we’ll set this aside.”
For his part, al-Maliki told TASS he was hoping for Moscow’s “direct and active involvement” in resolving the conflict with Israel, based on the generous Arab initiative. “Considering the results of the latest session in Paris, we felt that it was necessary for us to come to Moscow to exchange opinions and see whether there were prospects for progress,” the PA foreign minister said.
“We’re convinced that Russia can play a very important role in bringing the parties to the negotiating table,” he added, noting that the recent talks in Paris held without the participation of the parties to the conflict helped ensure agreement on the beginning of the talks.