Printed on: May 01, 2013
Arab League sweetens Palestinian peace plan
JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Arab League's decision to sweeten its decade-old proposal offering comprehensive peace with Israel has placed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bind and swiftly exposed fissures in his new government.
Netanyahu's chief peace negotiator on Tuesday welcomed the modified Arab proposal, while the prime minister remained silent, reflecting the internal divisions that lie ahead as the U.S. tries to restart long-frozen peace talks with the Palestinians.
"This is a positive announcement," negotiator Tzipi Livni told Channel 10 TV, adding that it gave "tail wind" to peace efforts. "At the end you need a direct negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians."
The original 2002 Arab peace initiative offered Israel peace with the entire Arab and Muslim world in exchange for a "complete withdrawal" from territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all seized by Israel in 1967, for their future state.
The initiative was revolutionary when it was introduced by Saudi Arabia's then crown prince, King Abdullah, and endorsed by the 22-member Arab League. The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation later endorsed the plan as well. However, it was overshadowed by fierce Israeli-Palestinian fighting at the time and greeted with skepticism by Israel.