A Balanced and Important Arab Move

  • 22 April 2007

The decision taken by the recent Arab Ministerial Committee meeting held in Cairo, which delegated Egypt and Jordan the responsibility of establishing contacts with Israel following the Arab peace initiative, signifies a balanced and important Arab move. The initiative has upset Israeli plans to achieve normalization of relations with Arab states free of cost. The move confronts Israel by placing responsibilities it has to bear for achieving peace, and by testing its seriousness on realizing a peaceful settlement. The initiative would expose whether or not Israel is ready to pay its dues for normalizing relations with Israel.

The decision of the Arab Ministerial Committee, responsible for following up on “The Peace Initiative,” has emphatically put the ball in Israel’s court. Its decision shows that Arabs are not merely presenting a peace proposal but are serious about having direct discussions with Israel, and that they are extending their hand after a collective decision taken at the “Beirut Arab Summit” in 2002. The recent Riyadh summit has proved that Arabs are serious about achieving peace and are viable partners of the peace process.

This is a historic chance for achieving a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli struggle. Israel should not miss an opportune moment and the international community should also provide necessary support for just and comprehensive peace in the region that has been witness to year of struggle and suffering, which has spawned many conflicts that have filled the Middle East with unrest and bloodshed.
The Arabs have taken a big step, first by successfully promoting a peace initiative that has the approval and support of all the Arab countries, and second by emphasizing direct contact with Israel to make it viable. Now, it is equally important that the Arab Ministerial Committee promotes this initiative at the international level and persuades international public opinion in its favor. This is highly important because the international dimension has been an important constituent of the Arab-Israeli struggle since 1948, as Israel has successfully presented itself to the world as a peaceable country that is in the middle of hostile surroundings. It has also managed to twist reality and misinform international public opinion about the Palestinian struggle. It is time for a serious and collective Arab move to correct the distortions and convey the right message to the world. The move should be coordinated with major international forces to put an end to the crisis for good. Losing this historic chance for peace in the region would open the doors to a new age of tensions and conflict in the Middle East, which may have unpredictable consequences. If Arabs have taken the first step by investing their resources into this opportunity, the world should push Israel to take the next step.