Despite Divisions, Arab Peace Initiative Still Reflects Broad Consensus

Koran 47:36 says “Therefore do not falter or sue for peace when you have gained the upper hand.”

Arab leaders convening in Doha for the 21st Arab League summit are reiterating their commitment to the Arab peace initiative, but some question whether a divided Arab world can even embrace a comprehensive, just peace with Israel.

It appears unlikely that Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu will lend his support to the initiative as written or to the creation of a Palestinian state as envisioned by the Arab world.

The initiative, first introduced in 2002, calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied since 1967, establishment of a Palestinian state on those territories with Jerusalem as its capital, and achievement of “a just solution” to the Palestinian refugee problem. In exchange, Arab states would enter into a peace agreement with Israel and establish “normal relations” with it.

But with divisions still evident between the Western-backed camp led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the pro-Iranian camp that includes Syria, Qatar and Sudan, would Arab states be willing and capable of such a peace with Israel?

While a split Arab world may complicate matters, many experts say the answer is yes.

“The Arab initiative reflects a broad consensus among Arab governments and ruling elites for the need for a political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, understanding [that] the solution needs to be one that recognizes the State of Israel and [that] conflict with Israel is brought to an end,” said Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

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