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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 11:02 GMT
Saudi peace plan: Can it bring an end to the violence?
Intensive diplomatic efforts are under way to try to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

The top US diplomat for the Middle East is visiting Saudi Arabia to discuss a peace plan put forward by Crown Prince Abdullah earlier this week.

The plan, which involves Arab recognition of Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has already won support from President Bush and the EU.

But the developments risk being overshadowed by renewed violence in the region.

At least fourteen people have died in an Israeli offensive against Palestinian militants in the West Bank.

Does this latest peace plan offer a renewed opportunity for peace in the Middle East? Can leaders on both sides end the violence?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Arafat wants the same thing he has always wanted. The complete destruction of the State of Israel. If he does it in pieces or in one stroke, his endgame remains the same. Arafat does not care one bit how many suicides occur, if it gets him closer to his goal, it's fine by him.
David, USA

Perhaps the sensible way forward would be to hold a referendum asking the people concerned - the ordinary Israelis and Palestinians (not their leaders) - if they would be happy to live peaceably next to one another if this plan were to be implemented.
John Lawrence, U.K.

The Saudi proposal is a win-win strategy for Arabs and Israelis.

Name Here
The Saudi proposal is a win-win strategy for Arabs and Israelis. Under the Saudi proposal, Palestinians would get their own state that they have been looking forward to for the last 50 years, and Israel could end its isolation in the region and strengthen security. Some say that the Arab recognition of Israel may not strengthen Israel's security. I ask those people to look at the historical fact that Egypt and Israel have not had a war since the Camp David Accord. If Israel wants security, it must end the occupation of West Bank and Gaza. I also believe that it's time for Arab states to recognize Israel which has existed in the region since 1948.
Noh, Kyu, South Korea

If the Arabs finally decide to agree to UN Resolution 242 we may find peace. The Saudi initiative is exactly the same. All these years the Arabs have called for Israel to follow 242 but they have not been willing to do so themselves.
Tom French, USA

Can anyone tell me why Sharon sent soldiers, tanks to Arab lands in the midst of peace talks initiated by Saudi Arabia? Instead of refraining from violence, it seems to me that Sharon is initiating it. What does this tell us of Sharon's true intention? The Palestinians will probably answer back to this attack with a suicide bomber and then things will escalate and Sharon will say that there has to be peace between the two for 7 days before negotiations can start. But yet he starts the violence every time. I think countries should threaten to cut diplomatic relations with Israel until the government changes in Israel and peace is brought between the two.
Neutral, U.S.A

I have virtually given up on the peace process as long as Arafat is in power.

Aviv, Iowa, USA
I would like to say I find little reason for hope from this latest proposal. Although interesting, I have virtually given up on the peace process as long as Arafat is in power. In Camp David in 2000, he showed he would reject any plan that wouldn┐t meet his every demand, and he stunned everyone at that summit by rejecting Barak's absurdly generous proposals. Even Clinton was disgusted by Arafat's complete unwillingness to negotiate. As we now know, this unwillingness was followed by the current PA-incited and violence.
Aviv, Iowa, USA

I think the Saudi plan is deliberately two years late. I think the Saudis have judged the situation to the point where they themselves recognise that the Palestinians have gone to far and a war is imminent. Their reason for the peace statement is that they know the Palestinians will now lose in a big way and are trying to protect themselves from the wrath of the Barbarians that might flood into their country.
Hugh, USA

The problem is that Israel does not talk to the Palestinians. It kills, massacres, destroys houses in order to suppress the rightful owners of the land and then claims it want to talk peace. Peace comes with justice and security for both peoples not just the Israelis.
Uzair, Canada

Let the Saudis put their money where their mouth is. I would consider it a good deal if the land is given back in phases and the Saudi's are willing to take full responsibility for the actions of Palestinian bombers once the agreement is in effect. If the Saudis prove to be no more effective then the land goes back to Israel. They took the moral high ground and once again, the Palestinians showed their true intent.
Loran D. Doane, USA

The Saudi plan offers up a glimmer of hope and it is encouraging that America is treating it seriously. Israel must however choose whether it wants secure legitimate borders alongside a viable Palestinian state, or if it wants to keep expanding into the lands of Biblical Israel and be permanently at war. The actions of the current Israeli government show that Israel does not want peace and would rather sacrifice its own citizens than enter into peace talks.
Steve, UK

Peace doesn't work like a light switch: today there is peace, tomorrow there is not!

Daniel Stark, USA
Peace doesn't work like a light switch: today there is peace, tomorrow there is not! Who are we trying to fool? It emanates from mutual respect. And unless the PA rids itself from all the hate-mongers, peace is just a distant illusion.
Daniel Stark, USA

What is it that Europe loves so much about the Palestinians? The European attitude towards the conflict in the Middle East is: look after the Arabs no matter what the cost to Israel. In 1973 Israel came close to losing the Yom Kippur War when we were attacked by Syria and Egypt. We asked Europe to sell us some new weapons to make up for those we were losing. The Europeans refused. The Saudi plan says that in return for land the Arab countries will recognise Israel. In 1994 in Oslo part of the deal was that the Palestinians recognise Israelis right to exist but that's not how it looks right now. Also can Saudi Arabia honestly say they can guarantee that the more aggressive Arab nations will make peace with us? The best way for this problem to end is to let Israel talk to the Palestinians without outside interference.
Dan, Israel

This is one of the best debates that have taken place on "Talking Point". I believe that the Saudi Arabian plan is not going to work for several reasons:
1. Abdullah brought it up in an interview, and through regular diplomatic channels.
2. He claims that he planned to bring it up sooner, but put it off because of the Sharon's behaviour. So what prevented him from presenting it during Barak's term as PM?
4. The Saudis are having serious internal conflicts, and are using this issue to divert the attention to another arena.
There is only one way for the peace process to resume:
1. The Palestinian Arabs must end their terrorism at once.
2. All Arab countries should prove willingness to negotiate peace and promote peace.
3. Israel should concede to the Arab countries in direct proportion to the Arabs seriousness towards peace.
Daniel, Colorado, U.S.

I am only an onlooker to the conflicts that surround the Middle East, but this is a problem that needs to be sorted out quickly and diplomatically. Not with suicide bombing and Israel retaliation. As innocent lives are lost on a daily basis all for what? POWER and LAND. From what I see in the media it seems that the war for peace in the Middle East is a battle where only one party has a real advantage. There will always be hot-blooded Muslims who want to take matters into their own hands, but Israel should accept this as a by-product of its policies aimed at the Palestinians. To me, patience and discussion are the way forward towards peace in the Middle East.
Tausif Abdul, UK

While Ariel Sharon is in power there will be no peace in the Middle East. What will it take to make George Bush wake up and smell the coffee on this situation? Imprisoning people in inhumane conditions without trial and starving Iraqi children will not end the threat of Islamic terrorism. A lasting peace in which the Palestinians are given back their land and settlements abandoned will do far more. Admittedly, this will not stop all attacks but then again some peace is better than none at all.
Paul, UK

This proposal is absolutely ridiculous. It reminds me of a child in school who promises to be your friend if only you relinquish your candy. And then the child takes the candy and continues to ignore you. The Saudis are just trying to cover themselves up and like other Arab countries have once again diverted attention to Israel.
Anita, USA

The Saudi plan [...] comes from an unexpected source, that offers both sides, especially Sharon, an opportunity to talk without losing face

Name Here
The Saudi plan doesn't need to be anything new to represent a breakthrough that might lead to fruitful talks. Its significance is that it comes from an unexpected source, that offers both sides, especially Sharon, an opportunity to talk without losing face. The biggest obstacle, as it has been for many years, is that Israel will not leave its embattled view of being the victim and that it is itself contributing to the problem, by continued occupation of the territories and aggressive settlement building.
Barry b, UK

I really have to respond, point by point, to Daniella in Israel's tissue of lies:
1) Israel has never started a war in its history - please! David ben Gurion himself admits that Israel made a "pre-emptive" strike against Egypt in 1967 - though UN troops and monitors on Israeli-Egyptian frontier at the time saw no evidence of any Egyptian military build-up directed against Israel. And what about 1956 when Israel joined France and the UK in their little imperialist foray to Suez?
2) The Palestinians want their ancestral land back - not simply to be shunted off to some other Muslim country. (By the way Daniella, circa 10% of Palestinians are Christian). If the Jewish people feel passionate about a land they've been exiled from for nearly 2000 years, how do you think the Palestinians feel about a homeland they were only expelled from roughly 50yrs ago?
4) A complete withdrawal from the entire occupied territories including East Jerusalem? A right of return for Palestinian refugees? And what sort of choice have the Israeli people made by electing Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, as their leader?
5) Israeli children are taught lies and hatred towards Palestinians in their schools. 6) If you want peace, stop occupying Palestinian land in violation of the UN and the international community. Aggressors can't expect to have their cake and eat it.
Will Salomone, London, UK

The Arab world needs to realise that there has to be a price to pay for their lack of recognition of Israel's right to exist from 1948. Why would any sane person accept someone's word when they have been attacked regularly and consistently each decade? The only reason Israel exists today is because it has had to defend itself against all its neighbours, and not rely on the benevolence of the rest of the world.
Glen, USA

The peace plan is just right for what the Middle East needs right now. But I have reservations about Israel accepting such a plan as they will not return the occupied territory back to the Palestinians and return to the their pre 67 borders, the simple reason being that the Israel government is split in faction left and right wingers, Mr Sharon will have to take a stance against the pro-violence campaigners in his government. I hope this new peace plan works and the violence comes to an end. The sooner the better for everyone.
Mohammed, England

It might just work. However, it could cause some problems for Palestinians, as the plan does not include the need for Israel to recognise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as an independent Palestinian state. Until the land areas emerge into separate and recognised legal states there will always an underlying cause for claims on each other's territories with all of the subsequence violence that such claims and disputes involve.
W J Andrews, England

I think that unfortunately the Saudi initiative won't be given a fair chance to succeed.

Jeff, USA
I think that unfortunately the Saudi initiative won't be given a fair chance to succeed. Judging on past behaviour Sharon will no doubt start provoking the Palestinians into a situation of desperation where they feel there is option but to resort to violence. For example, every time there has been a glimmer of hope we see massive Israeli military action and an example today can be seen with the army's intrusion into a refugee camp. I do not believe it is a coincidence that it comes at the same time that the Saudi initiative is gathering momentum. Furthermore I have no doubt that there will be a Palestinian reaction and this will in turn be used by the Israeli's as an excuse (not for the first time) not to agree to enter any serious negotiations. I despair at our government's foreign policy within that region as it is one of pure selfishness (ensuring we have a strategic partner in the region - Israel). George Bush claims to be a man of principle yet his action in this instance defies all morals and is totally biased in Sharon's favour.
Jeff, USA

I really don't think this will work, especially because Arabs are demanding more than what they deserve. We support anything that will improve the situation. People must know that it is impossible to please everyone. But if this plan is going to stop more killings we as Israelis will support it.
Sarah, Israel

Full marks for trying, but ultimately, with such level of fanaticism and blind hatred on both sides, I can't see any hope of a lasting peace.
Rob Holman, Chislehurst, England

Every time you see an Israeli representative being interviewed he's stating 'the violence must cease before we go back to the negotiating table'. Every time we see a Palestinian representative being interviewed he's saying 'we want to go back to the negotiating table right now'. So they can't even agree to meet. The violence is regrettable but honestly I can't see what they are negotiating about. It seems so simple to me. Let Israel abide by the U.N. resolution. I don't think Israel sees the correlation between the violence and the solution. The Palestinian people - that is the people on the street - are frustrated and feel talks are bringing nothing.
Patrice, Trinidad

To Abdul Saidi: Likewise, 80 years ago there were no Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia. These places have been created by the British and the French and have just the same right to exist as Israel.
D. Long, US

I think it's a good opportunity for both Israelis and Palestinians to go back to the negotiating table, but I hope the Israelis won't put obstacles in the way as usual. We have to bear in mind that the U.S role is very important provided that this country gives equal support to both parties. It's also important that other countries, for example the European community and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, participate in the peace operation to give the right balance and support.
Abdulhadi Almarri, Qatar

The question is: will the Israeli accept a total withdrawal from the Palestinian territories? And what about the state of Jerusalem?

Aziz Ali, UK
In my opinion, the Saudi initiative is a great opportunity worth investigating especially as it came from the Saudi government, which has a big influence in the Arab world. But the question is: will the Israeli accept a total withdrawal from the Palestinian territories? And what about the state of Jerusalem? If the Americans force Sharon and his government to come back to the negotiation table, I think the Saudi plan will do something at least to stop the violence in Palestine.
Aziz Ali, UK

The proposal is interesting in that it represents a break with the Saudi past. However, it is more likely aimed at American opinion more than Palestinian or Israeli. How will it stop Hamas terrorism? How will it solve the Palestinian refugee problem? How will it allow Israeli or Jewish control of the Jewish Holy sites from which Jews have been banned by Islamic decree? How will Jerusalem be governed as a checkerboard of Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods that can be a refuge for terrorists?
Israel, Israel

I am very encouraged by the prospect of Arab and European Union solidarity to help bring about peace in the Mideast. Crown Prince Abdullah's tentative initiative would allow Ariel Sharon to withdraw from the Palestinian land without losing face, and the Palestinians would at long last have their well-deserved freedom and an independent Palestinian state. This is a tremendous opportunity for the Israelis to achieve the peace that they have been seeking in return for honouring prior United Nations resolutions. Everyone who seeks justice and peace should rally around this initiative.
Karen Russo, USA

The Israeli should think long and hard about this peace proposal put forward by Saudi Arabia. The mere mention of acceptance of Israel by any Arab or Muslim states even 15 or 20years ago was unheard of. The land STOLEN in 1948 has been granted to you. The offer is on the table, peace is achievable. As they say 'the ball is now in Israelis court'
Matthew, Australia

This is a fantastic opportunity, if at the least to halt the current cycle of violence and return both parties to the negotiating table. Israelis bluff has been called, does it want peace now or does it still seek to expand its borders and postpone peace until it is ready? I am encouraged by Sharon's tentative acceptance of this initiative, and the support that has emerged in the Arab world for further consideration of this contentious yet simple proposal. Sharon who has been unable to establish a solution to his countries predicament has been thrown a lifeline by the Saudis. Lets hope he grabs this opportunity with as much vigour as he has his gun in previous years. This may be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Martin, NZ

The proposals certainly offer a way forward and should be explored, but unfortunately they are unlikely to be the ultimate solution

Simon O'Brien, UK
The proposals certainly offer a way forward and should be explored, but unfortunately they are unlikely to be the ultimate solution. Israel will always see the Palestinians as either a threat or embarrassment - that has been the lot of native peoples everywhere from the US to Australia. Perhaps if they realised that the Palestinians are of course largely direct descendants of converted Jews some light may dawn.
Simon O'Brien, UK

To Anonymous, Netherlands: "dishonest and unpredictable like their faith"... talk about sweeping statements! I guess at least most of them would have the decency to "honestly" mention their real name in this forum! I just hope that comments like this won't radicalise moderate Arabs and Muslims!

Can the people propagating this myth about a "generous offer by Barak" just stop and listen to themselves! What was generous about NOT allowing those who were driven out by the Israelis, to return to their homes because it "alters the demographics of Israel". Why weren't the Jews so concerned with "altering the demographics of Palestine" when Israel was created? If this were happening in any other country, I'm sure the West would have sent its F-16 bombers to remove the incumbents. The myopia that exists (particularly on these pages) about Israel's responsibilities beggars belief! Imagine telling Uzbek refugees in Pakistan that they cannot return to Afghanistan because "they are likely to have more babies and will alter the ethnic make up of the country and outnumber the Pashtuns"! Such talk borders on fascism.
Obi, UK

Sal Ray's from Canada's comments are historically inaccurate. Everybody is entitled to subjective options, but re-writing history is not OK...
Jonah, USA

It is rather sad to read comments from Mr. JD from UK. If Palestinians sold their land they did not sale their country. If that is the right claim then England should have more than one name and one claim. People such as Indian and Pakistanis should claim part of England as their country because they purchased land from British.
Abraham Alizadeh, Canada

I think it is time for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Saudi peace plan will work if it gets support from America and the Arab world. Israel did too many killing and destroying innocent peoples homes. The UN should impose economic and political sanctions on Israel, America should stop supporting and arming Israel with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Arial Sharon should be tried in an international criminal court.
H Dridi, USA

I feel great sympathy for all ordinary people from any country who just want to get on with their lives and live in justice and in peace

Mrs. Pat Bradbury, UK
As I lived in Jordan for nearly six years perhaps Jonathan Goldberg will accept that I know a little about the area as I also visited the West Bank while there! I feel great sympathy for all ordinary people from any country who just want to get on with their lives and live in justice and in peace. Until Sharon is voted out and the Israeli government accept the UN resolutions there will be no peace.
Mrs. Pat Bradbury, UK

The Saudi plan may just work. It strikes me as unbelievable that almost no Arab regime officially recognises Israel's right to exist, even within its 1948 borders. People talk about Israel not observing the UN resolutions. Do they realise those same resolutions call for Israel's neighbours to recognise its right to exist in the pre-67 borders? I don't hear many complaints about this not being fulfilled! I hope the US really gets behind the Saudi plan and forces Sharon to accept it. No, it won't stop Hamas etc who only want the destruction of Israel and the liquidation of its Jewish residents. But their moral claims will look even more tenuous if Israel gives back all of the territories, and if Jerusalem is made into an international city, and the capital of both Israel and Palestine. I'm sure the extra billions then flowing in from Saudi and the West will assuage many further hotheaded disputes.
Paul, UK

The proposal is a facade. There are never guarantees in this area. Agreements last a bit then are broken. If Israel gave up the land it won in 1967, it would be a lot to give up for such a facade of peace. Arafat does not have the control he thinks he has and it would be only a short time before militants once again began the cycle of violence.
Perry, USA

I am generally more of a hawk then a dove, but this situation calls for strategic non-violence by the Palestinians. Here is my argument. First, we assume that sooner or later there will be stable recognized borders. Influencing these borders is the main practical goal of both sides. Under the current conditions, it is to Israel's advantage to delay a final resolution, since they are slowly getting more people into the disputed areas. This method of expansion is effective, but it is reprehensible. However, when the Palestinians protest by violence it allows Israel to use its superior military to further weaken the Palestinians. Every time a terrorist bomb kills an Israeli, Israel's political goals are advanced. I don't mean that Israelis want the conflict to continue, but while the conflict goes on Israel benefits. The Palestinians might actually improve their current bargaining position in border treaties, and Israel could not continue to claim self-defence. Unfortunately, non-violence does not appear to be within the grasp of the Palestinians at this point. As for the Saudi proposal, in harsh terms, Israel has no incentive to yield its advantages. I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong.
Adam Hammond, United States

The Saudi peace plan is an opportunity worth investigating, but there is deep hatred of Israel in the Arab world and I don't see that being reversed if Israel gives up occupied land

Franklin, Maryland, USA
The Saudi peace plan is an opportunity worth investigating, but there is deep hatred of Israel in the Arab world and I don't see that being reversed if Israel gives up occupied land (which it won after being invaded by Arabs). Why should anybody trust the Saudis?
Franklin, Maryland, USA

This fantastic plan proposes a shift in the opinion of the Arab world from one of vowed destruction of Israel to recognition of its right to exist. What a difference that would make! At the moment, the Israeli voter is trying to balance the knowledge that all of its neighbours are vowed to wipe them off the map with the need to create an armed Palestinian state within a 15-minute drive of their major cities. Think about how you would balance that now, and how you would feel after the desire to drive you into the sea was no longer official Arab governmental policy?
Elliot Renton, UK

US will not like EU involvement, as it wants the whole region to itself. This initiative by the EU will probably fail in the long term because the US will make it a failure.
Sam Robinson, UK

The idea sounds reasonable but Israel will not accept it as it means giving up the occupied territories. The Palestinian Authority has already accepted the right of Israel to exist within the pre 1967 borders but there has been no give from Israel. Israel is also only happy dealing with the Arab nations individually as they can play one nation off against the other to their benefit. Accepting an Arab-wide agreement would negate this advantage and also acknowledge the idea of Arab Nationalism. What Israel needs to do above all is negotiate with the people effected by their occupation, the Palestinians. Israel is all too happy to ignore them and be seen to be talking to its neighbours.
Alan, UK

This plan is totally ridiculous because Israel will never give back everything no matter what is on offer. We will keep at least some of the West Bank, Jerusalem and probably the Golan Heights. Saudi Arabia also has no right to speak for the other Arab countries of the region. If anybody expects this idea to work then they are dreaming.
SIMCHA, Israel

The Saudi plan sounds like a step in the right direction. However, it won't go very far unless the parties in the conflict can come to some sort of agreement with regard to the two main points of contention: the status of Jerusalem and the problem of Palestinian refugees. It seems to me that Israel must give up parts of Jerusalem - something that former Prime Minister Barak, of course, was willing to do. On the other hand, the Arabs must realize that Israel cannot accept large numbers of Palestinian refugees. To do so would be suicidal, and no country should be expected to destroy itself.
Gary, Japan

I'm deeply sceptical of the peace initiative by Prince Abdullah just because of the Saudi royal family's connection with the Bush family. Is this some kind of secret deal between the two families?

Akemi, USA
Knowing that it's perfectly fair and seemingly more hopeful to try a peace plan proposed by another Arab nation, I'm deeply sceptical of the peace initiative by Prince Abdullah just because of the Saudi royal family's connection with the Bush family. Is this some kind of secret deal between the two families that will only make them look good, but won't change anything?
Akemi, USA

One has to be cautiously optimistic about the Saudi peace plan. There is so much scepticism about the sincerity of the two sides that it will be extremely difficult to implement any peace proposal now. All the same, it seems like a glittering ray of hope for those who are tired of violence and bloodshed.
Mahesh Chandra Somani, Finland

Returning the land should not be a condition for peace. Israel should have made the first step and hand back the land it stole in 1967 - it is the only just thing to do for all the injustices they have perpetrated. Maybe then, through developing trust there may be a lasting peace.
Sean, UK

Sorry to say but there won't be a peace in the part of the world, the reason is simple. Israel is too strong and besides they got full American support, if some one is doing something wrong here is the Americans who are supporting Israel without checking them, so we have two superpowers one side and the side we have poor Arabs, and you know what that means? That means no peace, like it or not the war will go on, because there is no justice where won't be a peace as simple as that, and for the guy who was talking about Germany and Japan you are simply out of normal thinking, Hitler was trying rule the world so was Japan,
Justice, UK

You may want to ask yourselves why Israelis have not reacted to this question - perhaps we are too busy trying to live a normal life and protect our children from suicide bombers and terrorists living amongst us. Lets get some simple facts straight, as there seem to be a lot of ignorant people out there swayed by media or beliefs.
1) Israel has never in its history started a war. All wars and violence have been a measure of defence.
2) There are dozens of Muslim countries in the world with much land. It is interesting to note that none of them have offered their hospitality to their "brothers". Israel, on the other hand welcomes all Jews to come and live in its small land.
3) Have any of you actually looked at a map of the Middle East and seen the size of Israel? It is a tiny piece of land. Perhaps the source of the whole issue is not land?
4)Barak offered the Palestinians 99% of their demands - Arafat rejected it and chose terror - this is the choice he made for his people.
5) Palestinian children are taught lies and hate towards Israel in schools.
6) Israel wants peace and, above all, security for our children.
Daniela, Israel

Hey ... it's a straw ... grab it!
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

The Saudi proposals are nothing new, merely a rehash of previous initiatives

John G, London, UK
The Saudi proposals are nothing new, merely a rehash of previous initiatives. Arab recognition of Israel would go a long way to take some of the heat out of the situation. But the Arab countries bordering Israel are not cut from the same cloth. Egypt and Jordan have long recognised Israel through peace treaties. Lebanon could be persuaded were it not for the presence of Syrian troops on its soil. Syria itself won't because of the longstanding grievance over the Golan Heights. As for Iraq, it is so off the board that suggesting it recognise its enemy is utterly futile. Throw in the influence of Iran-a major regional player-and you will appreciate what a monumental task this is. Israel should, indeed, must end its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and dismantle its settlements. The Palestinian Authority cannot exist as a viable state otherwise. I am amazed so many people still believe the fiction that Arafat turned down Barak's "generous offer" of 97% of the West Bank. In reality, this would have meant the PA being reduced to several, small "Bantustans" separated from each other by Israeli- controlled roads connecting Israeli settlements in the remaining 3%. Water supplies would also be unfairly controlled by Israel for those illegal settlements. Not such a generous offer after all. There are many other different factors which could be brought to bear. Arafat must clamp down on the Hamas militants, the Israeli peace lobby must be more vigorous in its condemnation, and the US must use its not inconsiderable influence on Israel to create a solid ceasefire for the time being. Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war
John G, London, UK

How interesting that no one here so far has actually commented on the details of the Saudi proposal. Most of those who express an opinion on this matter aren't interested in the incredibly painful process of how to arrive at a settlement but content themselves with re-stating First Principles in an endless game of recrimination. By now everyone involved, including the majority of the Israeli and Palestinian public know that the two-state solution is the only viable solution. If the US backs this Saudi proposal there will be a huge Israeli pressure on Sharon who will be extremely reluctant to implement it because he was not elected to bring peace but to bring security, a promise he has failed to make good on. If Arafat did indeed give him what he demands - a 7-day cessation of violence - his bluff would be called, his intransigence exposed and he would be gone, to be replaced by someone who will sit down at the table with Arafat and bring about the only peace possible: two states for two peoples, dismantling of the settlements, a divided Jerusalem, compensation for most refugees rather than return, and recognition by the Arab world of Israel's right to exist. There is no other way, no other end.
Linda, UK

Peace plan forwarded by Prince Abdullah; recognition of Israel in return of the withdrawal from the invaded land is amicable & realistic. But the History shows us that Israel didn't respect any UN resolutions and deviated from any treaty they have signed in front of US mediation. Everywhere innocent people are suffering because of their state policies. In fact no one have sincere interest to solve this conflict. When we are supporting war on terrorism at the same time keeping silent on the aggression done by Israeli Forces on thousands of Palestinian civilians. Can we image some other state leaders in place of Arafat being house blockaded for weeks?
Noufal A V, India

I agree with everything that Robert from the USA said. This proposal would carry a lot more weight if it were coming from Yasser Arafat. In the end, I think it will boil down to just more talk.
Gwen, USA

After a long deadlock if there is a flash of light at the end of the tunnel why don't we give peace a chance?

Deshpremik Shoinik, Malaysia
By any means there should be peace in Middle East. After a long deadlock if there is a flash of light at the end of the tunnel why don't we give peace a chance? It does not matter who proposes what but we have a choice here. On the other hand both the parties, Palestine and Israel must have the sense of security out of this proposal that there will be peace at last. Especially I believe Israeli are willing to see either this peace proposal is bringing any long term stability in it's border or Palestinians buying time to prepare themselves for a new Intifada.
Deshpremik Shoinik, Malaysia

I dream a peaceful life... Without weapons, chemical, nuclear or whatever, no more terrorism, no more blood, just enjoy the good of the nature and help each other to learn... To fight diseases to eat better food, to love humanity... just a dream
Ihab Abd-Allah, Egypt

I find this proposal very interesting. But will Israel agree to it? Or will it again reject the proposal after ten years of negotiation - restarting another conflict? Can you imagine Sharon staying in power if he agrees to this proposal?
Jan Herk, Holland

Knowing the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and the Arab world too well, I don't think that Arab countries recognizing Israel will change anything as far as the security of Israel is concerned. Arabs have been educated for generations with the idea that Israel does not have the right to exist, and that they wont be able to unify unless it disappears. The historical background of the Middle-East is as such; the Arab nationalism embedded in Islam, has destroyed the original cultures of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine, and as long as these countries won't be able to be really secular (a bit like Turkey) there is no end to the cycle of the unconscious self-destructive pattern they are following. At this moment everyone is a bit obsessed with liberating the holy land, because of the way Islam can be interpreted... anything goes. The Koran speaks in some verses of the land of Israel given to the children of Israel and in other verses about killing anyone who is not a Muslim, and then reversing this completely to sparing the monotheistic beliefs. I can't blame the Muslim world for what seems to be a complete confusion. How can you trust these people? Far from being dishonest, they are just as unpredictable as their faith.
Anonymous, Netherlands

Most countries have been formed through war. I believe Luxemburg is the only exception. With the imminent attack on Iraq (sounds almost like poetry) the other Arab States do nothing. If they joined in and were severely defeated they would realize their own prediction of a powder keg in the Middle East.
Gilbert White, London, UK

Mr. Renton, it is because you are without religion that you are so misguided. The Arab Israeli conflict long predates the establishment of Israel, and it is only about religion.
Valerie, USA

No more peace plans, we have had enough of those peace plans

Abu Yousef, Saudi Arabia
No more peace plans, we have had enough of those peace plans. Where is the UN? Why have the UN sanctions been not imposed yet?
Abu Yousef, Saudi Arabia

Pinar, USA - I'm sorry to say this but it seems like the US is responsible for not allowing any constructive peace deal to work even the UN is bullied into a corner every time a UN peace deal is being dealt with. The US continues to veto these plans. It is also painful to say that the UN is nothing of use to the world anymore than the League of Nations. The 1967 peace and boundary deal is constantly overshadowed by Israel because they have support by the US. What is the use of complaining when only guns and bombs seem to make people listen anymore?
Ali, UK

That's funny. This is not a new proposal. That's what we, the Arabs, have been saying for many years. I am just curious to see how long will the interest on this proposal from the western world will last. My guess? Not very long.
Mohamed, Morocco

RE Matt Renton, UK - Funny how YOU fail to mention that Jews have lived in that area long before the Muslims. You also fail to mention that Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran, but in the Torah it is mentioned hundreds of times. You also fail to mention that the Haram al-Sharif was built on top of the holiest site in Judaism, the temple mount. Says much about the tolerance of other religions of the Arabs in the area.
Dan Muir, UK

To Goldberg from UK. You say not many people have visited the conflicted areas, yet we voice strong views. How many of us have been to Afghanistan? How many has been to New York, especially after September 11? There is a resolution placed long ago that Israel should withdraw from the Occupied Territories which they never have. Don't you see that it is Sharon who started the current war and he promised to bring peace in his election campaign? Since he's been elected (A massive mistake by the Israeli people) the war has escalated. It is Israel who does not want peace.
Khadijah Aisha, Germany

The Saudi initiative is a very brave one. Choosing such a time to come up with this plan is interesting too. By now, the majority of Arabs and Muslims are appalled by everything Israeli but, at the same time, the images of innocent lives lost in this conflict have sickened them, and the rest of the world, to the bone. The Palestinian side has suffered the most given its limited capabilities. The question that is in everybody's mind would probably be: isn't time to stop the bloodshed from both sides or is giving up the sacred cause of a free Palestine with the return of refuges just unthinkable. I guess it's about time to take the next brave step and make a decision. Let's just hope that the US will play a positive and unbiased role this time! Otherwise, it needs to stay away and let a third party supervise the negotiations.
Hesham, New Zealand

The Palestinians are playing right into Mr Sharon's hands and that's sad

Robert, Australia
The problem is Mr. Sharon is trying to pick a fight by provoking the Palestinians to attack them and is doing very well at it. The Palestinians are playing right into Mr Sharon's hands and that's sad. Israel needs a more liberal government to solve this problem. Sharon will never solve it but provoke it even more.
Robert, Australia

If there is any solution to Israel/Palestine problem, it should come from the people there itself. Palestinians always feel that the US is biased to Israel. In that regards, the fresh deal brokered by Saudi Arabia may weigh a little higher than those mediated by US and others. But every call to peace in the past has been shattered by a single notorious event. So, a long term and viable solution for real peace lies in the hand of people there.
Jishnu Subedi, Nepal, Currently in Japan

Isn't it ironic that we think of the French La Resitance as good freedom fighters, yet over 30 years since Israel invaded and we ordered them out through the Security Council, what diplomatic pressure have we put on them. Don't forget they really are occupiers, we should have put sanctions on them decades ago.
Philip Thompson, UK

It is interesting to see the number of Jewish contributions to this debate who say others have no right to comment on this dispute, while they themselves live and earn a living in other countries. I guess they do not wish to see the occupied territory returned to the Palestinians as this would interfere in their retirement plans?
NH, London, UK

No hope, I'm afraid, whilst Sharon and Arafat stay at power

John, England
No hope, I'm afraid, whilst Sharon and Arafat stay at power. To understand why, just follow the links to the profiles of these two men at the top of this page
John, England

Many people here are trying to place blame on one side or the other. The time for this has long passed. Everyone must stop trying to fight over whose fault it is and try to find a way to stop the bloodshed on both sides. I'm an Arab and a Muslim...not a terrorist and a radical. Peace!
Omar Al Marzoqi, United Arab Emirates

It baffles me that Saudi Arabia has not yet been the focus of the war against terrorism. This country everywhere interferes in the affairs of Muslim countries (Kosovo being a recent example). Saudi Arabia's influence in the Muslim world should be minimised, not encouraged. No doubt that country's meddling in Palestine will come with Islamist strings attached, as it always does.
Michael Entill, UK

Isn't this "bold and original" plan just the same as the original peace plans that the Madrid Peace Conference was based on? For the Arab world to accept Israel en-masse pre 1967 borders would be the least of their expectations and that would mean not just Gaza and the West Bank but the Golan as well. More left leaning Israeli governments have rejected such an idea so what is it that makes anyone believe that the current Israeli power base would even consider it for a second?
Mohamed, UK

If you want to know why peace is so far away you should read J. Goldberg's comments - Israel should invade Palestine because it is a suburb of itself??? No wonder Israel will not accept withdrawal to the 1967 lines - they'll be losing their suburban areas!!!
Med, UK

USA will have to follow this initiative and so will UN, but what USA does is most crucial and now the opportunity is there

B.Risnes, Norway
It is a golden opportunity to seize the proposal by the crown prince of Saudi-Arabia: complete security for Israel behind the borders of 1967 and an independent Palestinian state. USA will have to follow this initiative and so will UN, but what USA does is most crucial and now the opportunity is there. That country has the solution to the whole problem by telling both sides what to do!
B.Risnes, Norway

I feel sadness and pity for Jonathan Goldberg (see his note above). You really have to be totally ignorant of history to talk about the Palestinian land as "suburbs of Israeli cities". 54 years ago, there was nothing called Israel.
Abdu Saidi, Australia

First of all let's not lose sight of the fact that the Palestinians originally caused this problem themselves by selling land to Jews fleeing Europe before and after WWII. Palestinian tenant farmers, who were evicted by the new Jewish landlords, occupied the land the Jews bought. Second, let's not lose sight of the fact the ancestors of the Palestinians stole the Jewish homeland in the first place. So to the point, why should the Israelis withdraw from land which rightfully belongs to them?

Arab leaders have a tendency to talk a lot but not to do much, they usually like to keep the status quo so as to maintain their position in power. I cannot see the Israeli-Arab conflict ending soon because if it will Arab citizens will have no one else to direct their anger to and that might lead them to reconsider their leaders.
M, Belgium

Please relieve Palestinians, make peace, and warn America from helping Israel by supplying sophisticated arms & weapons
Ahmed, India

It seems to me that Israel has less regard for peace than Hamas or Islamic Jihad. If the Palestinian people want a homeland and all the other Arab states support them, why don't countries like Saudi Arabia give up some of their land to them? I know that there are issues with holy places etc, but both countries cannot occupy the same territory. The Israeli state was formed some fifty odd years ago by taking land from another country. Who had the right to do this? Modern day territorial borders have been decides by thousands of years of fighting, unless we want more, I suggest these two put away their guns, and start dialog. No fighting, no time limits, just sit and talk it over. Sharon should stop throwing his weight around and Arafat should take control of his people or give the job to someone who can.
Karl, UK

The Saudi peace plan gives hope to the people of Israel and Palestine and will demonstrate the true sincerity, and clear intention of their leadership to peace.
Rudy, Hungary

The only way peace in the Middle East can even be contemplated is if Israel recognises the right of Palestine to exist and vice versa

PhilT, Oman
I have often commented in the past that the only way peace in the Middle East can even be contemplated is if Israel recognises the right of Palestine to exist and vice versa. This Saudi Arabian initiative is certainly a step in the right direction. So let's hope that something positive can be achieved from it.
PhilT, Oman

It beats me why the British media spend so much time covering events in Israel and Palestine. Should we really care? I can assure you that I don't. The Jews and the Arabs are as bad as each other when it comes to extremism and prejudice. Even if the Israelis left altogether the different Arab factions would continue to fight amongst themselves. Until people grow up and stop invoking the name of their imaginary friend, God, when they try to justify violent actions, there will never be peace in this world.
James, UK

Any Arab move toward finally recognizing Israel's right to exist is to be welcomed. After all, the Arab rejection of Israel, to the point of even refusing to mention the country's name, has been the core of the problem for over 50 years. Let's hope that the Saudi proposals are a genuine shift in the Arab policy and not a tactical ploy aimed at isolating Israel internationally. For too many years the Arab policy has been to weaken Israel diplomatically and to slice it up until the country becomes indefensible. We can only pray that the Arab world is really prepared finally to accept Israel and put an end to this bloody conflict and give both Israelis and Arabs a chance to live fulfilled lives free of fear and hate.
A. Marco, UK

Do you really think that Crown Prince Abdullah, Yasser Arafat and other Arab leaders will themselves recognise the State of Israel? No Muslim will ever recognise the state of Israel.
Matthew Hughes, UK

The Saudi initiative is a golden opportunity for Israel to stop the violence and live in peace within the Arab countries. Yes Israel succeeded in stopping the war with neighbour countries like Egypt and Jordan but still the peace agreement with the two countries only prevents war but doesn't secure an internal public acceptance to the state of Israel because of what people see every day of violence and occupation to Islamic holy places which by all means Arabs will not negotiate about it. The Arab leaders will meet in Beirut in a few weeks and this initiative will be discussed so a general decision could be taken to start new concepts for dealing with Israel as a neighbour country and a partner in peace but Israel must discuss the Saudi proposal and show a real welling for peace.
Ihab Abdelghani, London

This is a significant step in the right direction. I believe Israel and Palestine each have a right to their own state. If the Arabs who surround Israel recognise its right to exist, I think it will ease the security fears that the Israelis have had for decades and give a real chance to the realisation of peace in that region. Lets hope this helps to end the senseless cycle of violence the region has seen since Oct 2000.
Omeni, London, UK

Khrushchev once said, "It is either peace, or total destruction". This is what is happening in this region

Tae Kim, France
Well, in my opinion none of the two leaders are doing the right thing. The blockade imposed by Ariel Sharon upon Arafat, only provokes more violence in the region, more attacks on the Israeli civilians. Although Arafat may not have done the right thing, for instance smuggling weapons, it is preposterous to indict him for all the violence in this region. Ariel Sharon is a fighter, not a peacemaker. Moreover, how can we say that Arafat is directly controlling violence, committed towards the Israelis by the Palestinians? The new peace plan holds the key to this problem. Khrushchev once said, "It is either peace, or total destruction". This is what is happening in this region.
Tae Kim, France

I would support the peace proposals. However I do have one reservation. It is Saudi Arabia with its extreme sect known as Wahabism that has been causing fanaticism in other Countries. It is time people looked at the Saudis for what they have done in the Islamic World.
Sanjay, UK

Does anyone really think that either Arafat or the Islamic extremists of the Middle East really want peace? Whatever the rights and wrongs on both sides, however much Israel offers, it only takes a small number of Islamic terrorists to murder a few more people and it all starts again. By the way, what has happened to the immense amounts of money given to the PA? It certainly has not been spent on improving the lot of the ordinary Palestinian.
Erik Johansson,

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Middle East
Saudi plan spurs Mid-East diplomacy
01 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel intensifies refugee camp raids
28 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel targets refugee camps
25 Feb 02 | Middle East
Shootings raise Mid-East tensions
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