Sunday, April 15, 2007

Israel, Arabs Ready To Talk?

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

An upcoming meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the Saudi peace initiative will not include meetings with Israel, says Egypt's FM:

The Egyptian foreign minister said negotiating with Israel is an exclusive affair of any party which has a problem with Israel, whether Palestinians, Syrians or Lebanese, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.

The committee, which is to meet in Cairo Wednesday at the level of foreign ministers, will discuss means of activating the initiative, said Abul Gheit, noting that the several working group would be set up to serve that end.

The newly-formed Arab peace initiative committee groups Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Sudan and Yemen.

Meanwhile, Israel says its ready to talk to Arab states and hear what they are proposing, while not making any strategic concessions:

Israel is prepared to meet with the Arab League's committee for furthering the Saudi peace initiative, government sources in Jerusalem said yesterday. The sources said Israel was waiting for the official appointment of the committee next week. "If its goal is to further the Saudi initiative, then from our point of view, it is possible to engage in dialogue with it," a source said.

American officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dick Jones, have said recently that the expected dialogue between the Arab League and Israel would be a move of historic significance.

It's good to hear talk of peace negotiations, however no real progress seems to have been made, as Israel is still unwilling to give the Arabs the land which they're asking for, and the Arab states have set this as a precondition for talks:
Asked whether contacts with Israel would be hinged on a practical stance on the part of Israel, the Egyptian foreign minister voiced the belief that the Arab side would not make gestures towards Israel unless the land-for-peace principle was implemented.

Short of achieving that, any talk of normalization with Israel would be ill-founded, said Abul Gheit.

"There is a need now for international partners to hear from the Arab side," said Abul Gheit.

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