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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 17:20 GMT
Middle East: Will the new peace plan work?
Arab leaders meeting in Beirut have unanimously endorsed Saudi Arabia's peace plan for the Middle East.

The peace initiative offers Israel "normal relations" and full peace with Arab states, if it pulls out of all Arab land it occupied in 1967.

It also calls for a "fair solution" to the problem of Palestinian refugees based on UN resolutions and a Palestinian sovereign state to be established with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Will the new peace proposals work? Will it end the violence?

HAVE YOUR SAY

Even if the Arab summit supports the Saudi initiative, Israel will not seriously consider it

George Thomas, India
Peace can be achieved if both sides are willing to negotiate. Israel has already rejected the initiative by the Saudi Government - as the government spokesman said: "We have heard it many times." With that attitude, even if the Arab summit supports the initiative, Israel will not seriously consider it.
George Thomas, India

Do they know that wisdom is better than strength?
Godwin Dossou, Canada

Accountability, that's what will bring peace to the Middle East. War criminals should be brought to justice and Israel should be forced to accept the Saudi peace proposal. As long as the extreme Jewish lobbies in the USA give protection and support to the extremists in Israel and disregard the peace movement, no peace is achievable. I fear the future of this region; I fear a nuclear end to this conflict.
Danny Ruhan, Lebanon

I normally condemn Israel because they have the upper hand and thus in my opinion bear more responsibility and more ability to bring peace by showing humility and not trying to humiliate the Palestinians, but on this occasion I want to chastise the Arab leadership for demanding the right of return of refugees as a pre-condition for talks. Peacemaking requires compromise not grand posturing.

The Arab summit should have demanded a return to pre-1967 borders as is consistent with international law, an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as is acceptable to all parties and a guarantee of refugee return ONLY to the new Palestinian state. It is a reasonable fear that letting a load of embittered Palestinians into Israel would be a security mistake.

The best that could be reasonably negotiated would be an opportunity for returning Palestinians to be allowed right of abode in Israel after a post-peace five or ten year cool-off period and for Israel and Palestine to agree a free trade agreement and customs union as part of a new economic partnership to build a measure of interdependence and common interest. Families that eat together, stay together. Softly is the approach that we need, not ego-driven political grandstanding. Come on guys, we're sick of you killing each other! Sort it out!
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya

Of course, it must work. If it does not than expect the prospect of escalating violence to continue until a more viable solution is found.
Robert, USA


During these dark times, the Saudi peace plan is a glimmer of light

Chris Irvine, USA
During these dark times, the Saudi peace plan is a glimmer of light. While vague, the proposal shows that peace between the Arab governments and Israel is possible. Now responsible leaders on both sides need to work on a crucial problem; preparing their populations for the reality of peace. That could become the key to fostering real and lasting peace.
Chris Irvine, USA

The Saudi plan is not a new peace proposal. Peace will not come to this region until the Arabs recognise that Israel has a right to exist. The issue of the right to return of Palestinians is a non starter. The Palestinians are the only "refugees" who after 50 years are stateless. To remind your readers, Israel in 1948 was attacked by five Arab nations. The hypocrisy is appalling. Even if you forget history, Israel at its pre-1967 borders is indefensible. Just looking at a map makes the security risks obvious. To think that peace will became a reality by merely withdrawing is naive. At the end of the day it all depends on trust. The constant barbaric suicide attack and the failure by the Saudis even to condemn them make the proposal unfortunately a dead duck.
Frank, UK

I would like to believe that the Saudi peace plan will work, but I have no doubt the terrorist groups (like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc...) will work against it. These groups are totally against Israel-- they don't just want a Palestinian state, they want an end to Israel. You can't deal with a group of people who will only be happy when every Israeli/Jew is dead. I applaud the heads of the Arab countries who are earnestly trying to broker peace. Unfortunately, until the extremists are controlled, any peace plan is a dream.
Jen, USA

How can Israel give the Palestinians what they want, if they keep suicide bombing innocent civilians even at times of ceasefires. The Palestinians are no longer the underdogs, they're just as bad if not worse.
Larry Oke, UK

Imad Naasani's writing in completely detached from reality. Until 18 months ago there was an on-going negotiation process to establish a Palestinian State in line with UN resolutions while maintaining Israel's security at the same time. The Palestinians' attacks on Israeli civilians have put a stop to all such efforts. The only way to resolve the problems is through mutual agreement but the problems cannot be addressed as long as Israelis believe that the Palestinians' only goal is to destroy their country.
A Rubinstein, UK


Once the Arabs embrace Israelis as peace loving and law abiding neighbours - only then Israel will have full support from Arab populace

Asghar Ali Khatau, Canada
Lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis is only possible when the United States loosens its strings on appeasing Israel and the people of Israel stoop to conquer the hospitality of the Arabs. Once the Arabs embrace Israelis as peace loving and law abiding neighbours - only then Israel will have full support from Arab populace.
Asghar Ali Khatau, Canada

The Saudi plan is clear, but as long as Sharon is the head of the Israeli state any chance of peace is unlikely to succeed that plan. This summit could start new dialogue between Arabs and Israelis if Arafat was allowed to attend. But now as Sharon puts restrictions on Arafat's attendance at the meeting, it's a huge blow to any chance of the Saudi Plan succeeding.
AM, Somalia

The only way the peace process can proceed is if the Arab States have the courage to definitively state that Israel has the right to live in security and that they will agree to have normal relations with Israel when a peace deal is concluded with the Palestinians. In addition, the Arab States (in particular Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt) should once and for all condemn terrorism and publicly declare that they do not support organisations such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups and should put pressure on Arafat to publicly call for a ceasefire and to disband such groups. Such a message will send great hope to Israelis that maybe a corner has been turned and would put pressure on Ariel Sharon to enter into negotiations for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and the signing of a peace treaty.
Jonathan , UK


Peace will never be achieved in the Middle East while terrorism is a factor

John Fahey, USA
Peace will never be achieved in the Middle East while terrorism is a factor. Terrorism can most easily be stopped by the Arabs. Too many Arabs support terrorism by simply looking the other way when Israeli children are murdered. If peace is to be attained, the Arab states must demand a stop to Palestinian violence, and meet Israel's concerns for survival.
John Fahey, U.S.A.

The fact that Saudi is making the proposals that they are is an historic milestone in itself. Never before has the Arabs agreed to recognise Israel so, if it is confirmed and agreed, then it will be the first step in the right direction. My only hope is that Israel responds with something equally dramatic, so that the Arabs don't feel as though they are the ones giving all the concessions.
PhilT, Oman

Why not make history at the summit?. The Arab people should put aside their petty differences, and start talking of unity. For too long the west has dominated with its "divide and conquer" strategy. The Arab states should unite, and thus become a powerful body like the EU. Whether you're from Lebanon, Palestine or Iraq, the Arab people should come together and speak in one strong voice that represents for the entire Arab race.
Rod, Australia


If this resolution passes their could be riots in the streets of Beirut and Damascus.

JL, USA
I don't think that the Arab Summit will amount to much. Even if the Saudi initiative is passed. Whose to say that the populations within the Arab countries will support the resolution? I think that the sentiment amongst the Arab world is not of true recognition of the Jewish State of Israel. But instead the destruction of Israel. If the resolution is passed extremist Islamic sentiment amongst the Arab populace could overthrow or at least threaten the security of many Arab states. As we have seen in the last few days in Syria and in Lebanon, if this resolution passes their could be riots in the streets of Beirut and Damascus.
JL, USA

While being fully convinced the summit will achieve absolutely nothing whether Arafat is there or not, I like anybody in their right state of mind wish for the peace over there. However, there is no real hope for any peace at any level for some time to come, only the enforced peace. There are too many issues at stake that have not yet even been targeted and any of which is capable of eliminating a solution. There are also hidden agendas on both sides that they are unwilling to publish but do not want to give in either at any price except getting the agenda through. It is truly sad observation but something you must arrive to unless your eyes are bright blue or you are a professional politician.
Peter, Finland

So, Israel may allow Arafat to attend the summit, but have not yet agreed whether they will allow him to return home to his family afterwards. Seems like implied conditions to me. 'If you say something that we don't like, you can't go home'. Imagine a summit where Mexico gives George Bush conditions to allow him to return home. Imagine Blair telling another European leader that he will use the military to prevent his return home if his statements were not to Britain's liking. People are dying and the leaders don't care.
Stingray, USA

I can't believe there is all this excitement about a Saudi Proposal that goes no where new, is not going to be kept by anyone on the Arab side, would not do anything to enhance Arab security and would not solve the major Israeli-Palestinian issues. Why is anybody wasting any breath on this. Why is the EU backing this. EU countries would never give up their own defences for such vague promises as the end of the conflict. That's like European Countries giving up NATO at the height of the cold war on a vague USSR promise of an "end to the conflict". Israel should support the idea that at least the Arabs are trying to come up with something for once. But it should make clear that this is not a good trade.
Ross Larsen, USA


If Arafat is not allowed to attend, then Israel will be seen as the one opposed to peace

Said Mahad, Denmark
The Arab summit in Beirut can achieve a somewhat reasonable start to a long lasting peace between the Arab states and Israel, but that is only if Arafat is allowed to attend. If he is not there, then Israel will be seen as the one opposed to peace and the last hope for peace will be destroyed.
Said Mahad, Denmark

I have mixed feelings about the Arab Summit. I hope of course that the Arab leaders will agree on steps to end occupation and violence in the region that is fair to both Palestinians and Israelis. I fear that even if this is achieved in the summit, there will be no one to put the words into action. Surely the US will not. Our government has ignored all of the UN resolutions regarding the Middle East, except for those that have been beneficial to Israel, so why would they act on what Arab leaders collectively agree upon now? Hopefully the US will see that the key to ending the conflict (though extremists on both sides will never be happy) is by ending illegal occupation by the Israeli army and settlers, not through offering more aid to Israel, which will result in more bloodshed.
J, USA

The Arab countries' proposals that Israel returns to the 1967 borders, accepts an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and contributes to resolving the refugee problem (which Israel caused) are perfectly realistic and just demands. If Israel can agree to restore the human rights of the Palestinian people - there is a great chance that peace will be achieved. There can only be peace with justice. This is what the Arab states are asking for and no less. Let's hope that Israel finally is willing to subscribe to these international standards.
YS, USA


If hypocrisy and hidden agendas prevail, then confusion mounts and unrest among the peoples is prolonged

Margaret Maylad, Philippines
It is a big boost to the quest for peace in the area, that of the offer of the Saudi prince. This peace initiative, if it is to be accepted by all the Arab leaders, could well be the starting point. A resolution has to be made by both parties (Israelis and Palestinians). But the situation is very tough. There is the presence of hard-liners, who cannot adapt to any new settlement, and who cannot accept any kind of agreement that may serve as a balancing agent for both. Satisfaction may be hard to achieve, as each does not see the other's welfare. Also, the quest for peace must reside in the hearts and minds of both leaders (Sharon and Arafat). If hypocrisy and hidden agendas prevail, then confusion mounts and unrest among the peoples is prolonged. The influence of leadership must be strong as accountability is something looked into most of the time. A national healing is deemed necessary too for the peoples have been accustomed to hatred and war, and have lived with many years of violence.
Margaret Maylad, Philippines

John Fahey USA. Please note: 1200 Palestinians and 350 Israelis have died in this conflict, it is not simply about blaming "Arab terrorism", it must be about trying to achieve a just peace and not a cynical measure of applying blame which has been the only result so far. If any one else has some constructive views I'd really like to hear.
Maria, Aus

The Jews and Arabs both have Abraham as their father of their nation. They are half brothers! One claims rights by birthright and the other claims rights by bloodline for God's approval. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and their mother was an Egyptian. Sarah is the mother of the Jews. Peace will only come when both sides recognize Jesus Christ and what he stood for and comprehend his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. So far Jesus is a stumbling block to both sides as prophesied in Isaiah.
John, USA

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See also:

25 Mar 02 | Middle East
US backs Arafat summit release
25 Mar 02 | Middle East
New Mid-East plan considered
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