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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Saudis - Israel must accept peace plan first, talk later

What does this mean? If the plan is "accepted" does that mean that Israel accepts right of return? Does it mean that Israel accepts 1967 borders?
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 14:46 04/04/2007   
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that Israel must first accept the Arab peace initiative before it would agree to any direct talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Olmert has called for a summit with the Saudis in order to discuss the peace process, following an Arab League decision to re-launch a 2002 peace initiative that calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 boundaries and a just and agreed solution to the refugee problem.
A Saudi source told The Associated Press that Israel must accept the proposal "before any meeting is considered."
The source's comments, given on condition of anonymity, were the first Saudi response to the prime minister's offer.
Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have expressed reservations regarding several of the proposal's clauses, specifically the clause regarding the refugee issue, although have said the initiative contains many positive elements.
It has been previously reported that Saudi Arabia is holding secret contacts with Israeli officials, but is refusing public talks.
The foreign ministers of 10 Arab states will meet in Cairo in two weeks to call on Israel to accept the peace initiative approved at the Arab League summit in Riyadh last week, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa announced on Tuesday.
The foreign ministers "will call on the government of Israel and on all Israelis to accept the Arab peace initiative and use the existing opportunity to renew the direct negotiations on all tracks," Moussa was quoted as saying.
The 10 countries that will be represented are members of the Committee for Furthering the Arab Peace Initiative. Moussa heads the committee, which includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia, Bahrain and the PLO.
According to the Arab press, the purpose of the conference would be to offer Israel normalization in relations in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Part of the program would include the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
The Saudi Arabian government announced on Monday that it was now Israel's responsibility to undertake steps that would enable progress in contacts with Arab states.
"First and foremost, Israel must recognize that peace requires that it end its continued and inhuman attacks against the Palestinian people," the Saudi statement read.

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