Give Peace a Chance

 By Aziz Fahmy, YNet News
Egyptian journalist says Israeli, Arab peace initiatives offer hope for new era in Mideast
In the past few months I was watching with great interest the emergence of the Israeli Peace Initiative (IPI), and the group of prominent Israelis who are behind it. As an Arab journalist who covered the peace process for over 30 years - since Sadat went to Jerusalem - I feel we are indeed entering a new area of big promise; and that IPI coupled with the Arab Peace Initiative (API) represent the future of peace in the region.
Although it is not the Israeli government launching the IPI, it is indeed significant, as a former army chief of staff, heads of security services, a prominent business leader and intellectuals are behind it. Furthermore, the launch of the IPI is an historic development, as it is the first Israeli response to the API which offered in 2002 Arab collective recognition of the State of Israel with recognized and secured borders as well as diplomatic and trade relations.
Arabs and Muslims could not understand - for years - how the Israelis refused out of hand this recognition, which Israeli leaders after the Six-Day War were hoping to obtain. Both the IPI and API are calling for withdrawal of Israeli troops from territories occupied in 1967, with some modification and ending all claims.
Jewish, Christian and Muslim American leaders - who comprise the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for peace in the Middle East - immediately realized the historic significance of the IPI. They welcomed it and sent an open letter to President Obama citing IPI, API and the Geneva Accord as basis for reaching comprehensive peace in the Middle East. These religious leaders -including 10 nationally recognized rabbis - called on President Obama to visit Jerusalem and the region to promote peace based on these initiatives.