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Back to the Arab League Initiative

Date: 21.11.08

On Thursday, November 20th, the Palestine Liberation Organization's Negotiations Affairs Department took out an ad in Israeli newspapers, aimed at brining the Israeli public's attention to the Arab League Peace Initiative by presenting its details and explaining its significance should Israeli-Palestinian peace be reached.

The ad was an initiative thought up by senior Palestinian officials, among them Geneva Initiative signatories and supporters.

Along with Israeli President Peres' statements of support for the Arab Initiative, later backed by the Israeli defense minister as well, the renewed interest in the Arab Initiative is making waves, and two of Israel's largest dailies devoted in-depth weekend articles to the subject on Friday, November 21st.

In a feature article in Yediot Aharonot's weekend supplement, Ariela Ringle Hoffman detailed Peres' efforts to bring the Arab Initiative back into public debate. He first mentioned the Initiative on September 9th at the UN assembly during a conference on religious dialogue, initiated by Saudi King Abdullah. Peres reiterated his support at a speech he gave in the Knesset on October 27th: "We must lend our ears to the voices coming from the Arab states and the Muslim world, calling for an end to the Middle Eastern conflict and for peace."

"The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 put an end to the previous unity around Khartoum Policy of the Arab League—meaning, no to recognition, no to negotiations, and no to peace. Now the Arab answer is Yes. Yes to peace with Israel," Peres added during the Knesset speech. "We mustn't ignore the positive change, even if we do not accept each and every article in the Initiative. The price of a comprehensive agreement will be no more that the prices Israel has paid or has been willing to pay in separate negotiations with each state, but the overall reward will be much more significant—the end of the conflict in the entire Middle East and normal relations with all Arab states."

Peres told Yediot Aharonot that, "This Arab Peace Initiative is a historical turning point in the Arab world's position. This is very clear when you hear the resonating 'Yes' in favor of peace."