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Thread: Peace in the Middle East - It's starts with Israel

  1. #1
    Chana3812 Guest

    Peace in the Middle East - It's starts with Israel

    Olmert: Arab peace offer "revolutionary," wants summit

    Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)

    Jerusalem (dpa) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a series of interviews Friday, welcomed a relaunched Arab offer promising wide regional recognition of Israel in return for a full withdrawal from the occupied territories as a "revolutionary change."

    He said he was willing to talk to Saudi Arabia and other "moderate" Arab states to discuss the peace initiative, which had initially been rejected by Israel when first adopted at the 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut.

    Olmert added he would be "happy" to attend a regional conference to do so.

    But he rejected out of hand a clause in the initiative which calls for a "just solution" to the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN General Assembly resolution 194.

    The December 1948 resolution says Israel should allow Palestinians to return to the homes they fled in the war that followed its creation and pay compensation to those who choose not to.

    Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, meanwhile welcomed the outcome of the Riyadh summit as "a positive signal."

    Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Chancellor Angela Merkel, heading Saturday for a visit to Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, would discuss the outcome of the summit with Saudi King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak by telephone Friday.

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon too had repeatedly said during visits to the region earlier this week they hope the initiative would help revive the long-stalled Middle East peace process.

    "I have related positively to the Saudi initiative," Olmert said in interviews to several Israeli dailies ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday, which begins Monday.

    "That is not something that prime ministers before me have been willing to say," he told the Ha'aretz broadsheet.

    "Not everything is acceptable to me," he said, but added, "we are willing to discuss and hear from the Saudis their position and tell them ours."

    Israeli leaders have rejected as "suicide" a return to its own territory of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants who fled the 1948 Middle East war, whose number has grown from some 900,000 to more than 4 million.

    Instead, Israel wants a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza to absorb the refugees.

    "I'll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number," Olmert told the Jerusalem Post, adding Israel would accept no responsibility for the refugees, "full stop."

    The Israeli premier also rejects a full withdrawal from the West Bank and has vowed to hold on to Jewish settlements located around Jerusalem and close to the "green line" separating Israel from the occupied territory.

    While Olmert gave the interviews when the summit was still ongoing, a foreign ministry statement in a first official reaction since its conclusion said a two-state solution to the conflict depended on direct dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

    But moderate Arab states could play "a positive role" by supporting the Israeli-Palestinian track.

    Olmert in talks with Rice this week agreed to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas every fortnight, but he refused to renew actual peace negotiations so long as the president - whose Fatah party entered into a unity government with the radical Islamic Hamas two weeks ago - works with a cabinet that does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

    Hinting at Palestinian re-elections, he nevertheless said a "breakthrough" was possible within his own term as premier or shortly afterwards.

    "I am convinced that there is a real chance that within the next five years Israel can reach a comprehensive peace deal between it and its enemies," he told the Yediot Ahronot daily.

    Addressing the Riyadh summit on its closing day Thursday, Abbas had called on Israel to accept the initiative, warning that "putting off" action and "wasting time" would only endanger the region.

  2. #2
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    Didn't need to read the article to know that I agree with this.

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