The Arab summit drew world and Muslim leaders who backed the Arab plan offering Israel normal ties with all Arab countries in return for its withdrawal from land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, the creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinians displaced in 1948.
The final communiqué read by Arab League chief Amr Moussa at the close of the summit affirmed "just and comprehensive peace as a strategic option for the Arab nation in accordance with the Arab peace initiative" based on the "land for peace" formula.
Rejected by Israel when it was originally proposed at a Beirut summit in 2002, the plan has key hurdles to overcome.
Israel objects to important elements, including the proposed return to 1967 borders, the inclusion of Arab East Jerusalem in a Palestinian state and the return of Palestinian refugees to homes in what is now Israel. Backed by its U.S. ally, the Jewish state has said it prefers to negotiate the terms of peace first.
"I would say this: Let's conduct negotiations. You come with your positions, and we will come with ours," Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Radio.
If Israel continues to reject the Arab proposals, it effectively endorses infinite hostility. How can expect peace if you are not prepared to withdraw from occupied terrorities? How can you expect peace if you don’t acknowledge the historical error that was perpetrated on the Palestinian people? How can you expect peace if you don’t respect the Palestinian right for self-determination?
I suppose you could argue that the Arab League position only represents one side of the argument, but if real peace is the goal, I would submit it is the only course and not unreasonable. Israelis are on land that doesn’t belong to them, many settlers are every bit the radicals so often decreed in Muslim nations. There are objective wrongs that Israel doesn’t seem to accept, and until they do so everything else is window dressing and peace an illusion.
Just imagine if Israel were to accept these proposals. What a terrific gesture that would end the cycle. I would argue that the world would be far more sympathetic to legitimate Israeli concerns if there was a good faith, bold endorsement of a real peace. There are human rights issues at the core of most of the problems, the only way to deal with them is to show Palestinians the respect they deserve. This translates into dealing with refugees in an honorable way, respecting borders and embracing the concept of Jerusalem as meeting place, a powerful symbol of a new reality. The Arab plan is not a negotiating point, it is the essence of a solution. Period.