Are the Saudis Seeking Peace?

[Jerusalem Post] Dore Gold - Israeli diplomats had hoped that a modified peace plan might be adopted by the Arab heads of state at the Riyadh Arab summit on Wednesday that would leave out any references to the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel - a non-starter across the Israeli political spectrum. When that seemed unlikely, there was increasing speculation that at least some other statements would be made separately that would try to reach out to Israeli public opinion and build mutual confidence. But rather than obtaining some flexibility, Israel was handed an ultimatum when Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned Israel that its rejection of the plan would leave its fate in the hands of the "lords of war." The real problems with the Saudi peace initiative go well beyond the issue of the "right of return." The Saudi plan demands "full withdrawal" from "all the territories" Israel captured 40 years ago in the 1967 Six-Day War, thus negating the territorial flexibility contained in UN Security Council Resolution 242 that intentionally did not use such limiting language. Adopting the Saudi plan as presented would lead to the redivision of Jerusalem. It would also strip Israel of the "defensible borders" that President Bush said was Israel's right in his April 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon. In 2007, with al-Qaeda jihadism pouring out of western Iraq and Iran on the ascendancy across the region, these security assurances have only grown in importance. The paramount problem of Saudi Arabia today is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is shaping Saudi Arabia's new diplomatic activism is the rapidly expanding Iranian threat and the weakness of the Western response.

2007-03-29 01:00:00

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