Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi on Monday accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of taking advantage of the Arab Peace Initiative in order to avoid the French peace initiative.
Speaking to the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper after attending this past Friday’s Paris convention dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Al-Arabi claimed that the Israeli Prime Minister’s real motives were trade with the Gulf states.
“We have all read that Netanyahu remembered the Arab initiative. What made him wake up today and remember this initiative? Is it to get around the French efforts,” said Al-Arabi, who stressed that the text of the Arab Peace Initiative will not change despite Netanyahu’s request to do so.
“Netanyahu wants access to the Gulf region to benefit economically and financially. Perhaps he sees that this goal can be achieved by exploiting the Arab initiative,” he added.
Netanyahu believes, and wrongly so, that the way to the prosperous economies of the Arab world can be brokered by the Arab Initiative, Al-Arabi claimed.
He also said that the joint statement issued by the participants of last week’s summit in Paris would have been more aggressive in its demand for progress on Palestinian statehood, but the United States had campaigned to tone down the language of the statement.
Last week, Netanyahu and newly sworn in Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement they were ready “to negotiate with the Arab countries on updating the Arab Peace Initiative, to reflect the dramatic changes since 2002, and to maintain the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”
The initiative, unveiled in 2002 and re-endorsed at the 2007 Arab League summit, says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.
Israel to date has rejected the plan due to the fact that it calls for Israel to accept the so-called "right of return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Friday said the Arab Peace Initiative is the best solution for the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) conflict, and rejected Netanyahu's demand that the initiative be updated.
"It is on the table and it is a solid basis for ending the conflict," he said. "We and the rest of the world believe that the Arab peace initiative is the best option to resolve the conflict and we hope that this wisdom prevails in Israel too and that the Israelis would accept this initiative."
"The Arab Peace Initiative is very clear and in line with international resolution and it has all the elements needed for a final settlement … The Arab Peace Initiative provides Israel with a lot of incentives and it's for the Israelis to accept it," added al-Jubeir.