In recent weeks we’ve been hearing time and again about the “Saudi Initiative” or “Arab Peace Initiative,” partly thanks to the Palestinian Authority, which bothered to publicize it with an ad posted in Israeli newspapers and decorated with the flags of Arab states. Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres has been declaring, both in Israel and abroad, that the Saudi peace initiative constitutes a basis for a diplomatic process.
Those who review the plan can clearly see that the Arabs are not renouncing any demand, including the right of return of millions of Arabs into the tiny State of Israel. During the Camp David conference in the summer of 2000, it was Mahmoud Abbas who strongly objected to renouncing the right of return and Temple Mount, thereby limiting Arafat’s room to maneuver.
Abbas and Palestinian Authority officials are acting in line with the advice of excellent strategic consultant Ahmad Tibi. This is the same consultant who also accompanied Arafat during the joyful Oslo years, and even managed to turn him into a peace-loving Santa Claus. When figures such as Benny Begin pointed to Arafat’s Arabic-language speeches, where he spoke about “temporary agreements” until it would be possible to take over the entire Land of Israel, Peres dismissed them as “peace refuseniks,” until it was ultimately proven that Arafat indeed tirelessly aspired to destroy the State of Israel in line with the famous “phase by phase” plan.
However, Abbas and the Kings Abdullah (both in Saudi Arabia and in Jordan) are again resorting to the same old sweet talk, promising us a “peace of the brave” in a new honey trap.
According to the initiative, Arab states will establish normal ties with Israel in return to a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, and a resolution of the refugee problem in line with UN Resolution 194, which calls for the return of all 1948 refugees into the State of Israel. This resolution was also adopted by “Israel lovers” at the UN in Resolution 1397. It is also mentioned in President Bush’s “Road Map” initiative.
It seems that lately, when it’s clear to everyone that Oslo has failed, and when it’s clear that the disengagement plan brought Qassams to Ashkelon, and soon to Ashdod, people are looking for other ways to press Israel to “get rid” of Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights.
Well, it would be appropriate for our national parties, which according to all polls will be forming the next government, to reject the initiative and make it clear to our president that he does not speak on behalf of the State of Israel when he promotes a move whose only result would be the Jewish State’s destruction. It would also be proper for Kadima members, who during Sharon’s era resolutely resisted the plan, to speak up.
The initiative was adopted at the Arab summit in Beirut on March 28, 2002 based on a proposal by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah (currently King Abdullah.) The summit’s decision emphasized the clause pertaining to the right of return.
The Sharon government realized that accepting the initiative means establishing a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and turning the State of Israel into a state of all its citizens, once refugees return into Israel. In other words: This is the Jewish State’s end.
Therefore, Sharon and his government rejected the initiative in March 2002, and when the Israeli government decided to adopt President Bush’s “Road Map,” a dangerous plan in and of itself, the government presented 14 reservations, including a rejection of Resolution 1397 and the Saudi initiative.
Now that we’ve been told that the diplomatic team of President-elect Barack Obama is leaning towards turning the initiative into the basis for his Mideastern activity, we must hear Israeli voices objecting to the initiative and pointing out its perils.
Don’t believe biased publications on behalf of interested parties claiming that “all issues in the document are open for negotiations.” The time has come to believe the declarations made by all Arab world spokespeople, who claim this is a complete package, and that they will not be compromising on any of its components.
Have we not had enough of the Oslo delusions? Are we again going to be fed mirages of an approaching agreement, if only we agree for another small concession?
Adi Mintz is the former Yesha Council director