A Unified Arab Position

  • 20 September 2007

The General Secretariat of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council warned that one of the objectives of the intended “peace conference” this November could be to link the Middle East peace process with the situation in Iraq. The Secretary General of the Council, Abdul Rahman Attiyah stated at a media conference in Riyadh day-before-yesterday that linking the two problems is an “attempt to draw Arab countries into a conference whose real objective is to find a way to wriggle out of the Iraqi dilemma.” He added that countries of Gulf Cooperation Council would welcome any move that could help in reaching a fair and comprehensive solution of the Palestinian cause and a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He called for recommitment toward the establishment of two states, the conclusion of the peace process putting an end to the occupation, and the resolution of final settlement issues including those related to the status of Jerusalem and the refugees. He stated that all these issues should be resolved within a definite timeframe and should include all the concerned parties in the peace process, in order to grant the conference a measure of credibility, so that it does not end up like the failed conferences of the past. These statements are in sync with the position of Arab countries that have demanded a clear agenda for the conference and the necessity of evolving a timeframe to implement all that is agreed upon, as well as the necessity of involving all concerned parties. In this respect, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority had earlier made similar demands. Therefore, a unified Arab position seems to be evolving over the aforementioned conference. The existence of a joint Arab approach on the peace process in this critical phase is of great importance.

If the peace conference is managed well and if intentions are honest, it could present an important opportunity for reviving the prospects of peace in the region. Undoubtedly, the cohesion in Arab positions on the agenda of the conference, and the necessity of having a definite timeframe to implement the agreement, will mark a major advance in the way Arabs will manage their conflict with Israel.

The unification of Arab positions on the peace conference would provide an important basis for the evolution of an Arab consensus on the peace process, in keeping with the “Arab peace initiative” proposed by Saudi Arabia and adopted at the “Beirut Arab summit” in 2002. This consensus could serve as the proper mechanism for withstanding Israeli efforts to scuttle the peace process and its obligations under it, as stipulated by legitimate international resolutions.