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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 14:40 GMT
Arabs say peace plan in danger
Arab League meeting in Cairo
The meeting comes at a crucial time for Mid-East peace
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By Heba Saleh
BBC Cairo correspondent
The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, has warned that Israeli policy risks destroying Arab initiatives calling for peace.

He was speaking at an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo a day after 40 Palestinians were killed by Israel in retaliation for the killing of five Israelis during a suicide attack on a Jewish settlement.

Amr Moussa
Moussa: Arab states may have to act

Mr Moussa said the Arabs had opted for peace as a strategic choice but Israel's policies threatened to destroy that position.

Israel's failure to respond to Arab peace initiatives, the secretary general said, indicated it had chosen aggression as a strategy.

He said that the Arabs might have to respond with measures to protect their national security.

Saudi hope

These are tough words but in reality the Arabs are now pinning hopes on what has become known as the Saudi initiative.

So far this exists as a broad vision rather than a detailed plan.

It is intended as a reminder to the world and to the Israeli public that the Arabs want peace.

The initiative calls for Arab states to offer collectively to normalise relations with Israel against its full withdrawal from lands occupied in 1967.

Saudi officials say the initiative will be officially presented by Crown Prince Abdullah at the Arab summit in Beirut later in the month.

Most Arab states, including key ones such as Syria and Egypt, have announced their support.

Arab officials are now hoping that with the imminent return of the American envoy Anthony Zinni to the region the Saudi ideas may provide a boost to diplomatic efforts to end the violence and relaunch peace talks.

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Middle East
Mid-East sees bloodiest day
09 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arabs seek Mid-East peace revival
23 Jan 02 | Middle East
Profile: Amr Moussa
09 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel renews assault on Palestinians
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