Saudi: Israel should accept 2002 deal

Israel should withdraw from Arab territory and allow the creation of a Palestinian state before Arabs recognize it, a Saudi official said Monday in the kingdom's comment since invitation of Israel's prime minister.

Saudi: Israel should accept 2002 deal

Israelshould withdraw from Arab territory and allow the creation of a Palestinianstate before Arabs recognize it, a Saudi official said Monday in the kingdom'scomment since Israel'sprime minister invited Arab leaders to discuss their ideas for peace with him.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday specifically called on Saudi Arabia to take the lead, the first time Israel has made such a request of the Saudis,who maintain a state of war with Israel but are pushing for a peacedeal.

The Saudi official told The Associated Press that "before any meetingcould be considered," Israelshould accept the 2002 Arab peace initiative that would recognize Israel inexchange for withdrawal from captured territory and a just solution for thePalestinian refugees. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of thesensitivity of the issue.

At a summit in Saudi Arabialast week, the Arab League renewed its commitment to the peace initiative,which was initially proposed by Saudi Arabia. Olmert welcomed the decision butsaid Israeldid not accept all parts of the plan.

He said that if King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia were to invite him,Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and moderate Arab leaders to a meeting"to present Saudi Arabia's ideas before us, we will come to hear them andbe glad to offer our ideas."

Egypt'sassistant foreign minister for Arab affairs, Hani Khallaf, was quoted as sayingMonday that the Arab side cannot negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. TheJordanian government did not make any immediate comments.

Syriahad no immediate comment to the latest Israeli offer.

In a March 22 interview with French television, Assad said seeking peacewith Israel is a "firm principle," but stressed that the return ofthe Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, was a Syrianright that would not be compromised.

"The land must be returned in full. Any other details are subject tonegotiations but land is not. It is Syrian land," he said.

Israel occupies Syria's Golan Heights and the disputed ChebaaFarms, where the borders of Lebanon,Syria and Israel meet, as well as areas in the West Bank.

Lebanon's Prime MinisterFuad Saniora, responding in Beirutto a question on Olmert's call, said the Arab peace initiative was "basedon the very principle of land for peace. And this is something that Israel has tounderstand."

Saniora said Israel's useof military force and launching wars on Lebanon and Arab countries did notbring peace.

"Therefore, I think it's about time for the Israelis to realize thateventually it is important to establish real peace in the region and accept theArab peace initiative in its entirety," Saniora said.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Olmert should agree tothe Arab peace initiative.

"I think if he accepts the Arab peace initiative, it would open the wayto many conferences, not one," he said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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