A Rare Opportunity:
A Push For Peace in the Middle East
Daily Star Editorial
As the Middle East region suffers continued stress, conflict and
stalemate, Arab leaders over the next eight weeks have a rare opportunity to
do a rare thing: take the initiative and "sell" to the world their vision of
a Middle East that is considerably better off than it is today.
To move this vision forward, it is time to look back and relaunch the Arab
Peace Initiative which was presented to the world at the Beirut Arab League
summit of 2002. The formula was, and still is, simple: full Arab recognition
of Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state based on the land Israel has
occupied since the 1967 war. In short, not only an end to the bloody
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but a solution to the Israeli-Arab standoff
and the closing of a chapter in Middle Eastern history that has poisoned
decades and continues to destabilize the region.
To get this vision off the ground, Arab leaders must build on the current
diplomatic movement in the region and abroad, and consider holding an
international conference to promote, indeed push, the peace initiative as a
viable plan that should be put into action by the international community.
Why now? Because the "Quartet" (the US, EU, UN and Russia) which designed
the "Roadmap" for peace between Israel and the Palestinians met Tuesday at
the ministerial level for the first time in nearly a year. This year's Arab
summit, already postponed once, is scheduled for later this month; June will
see meetings of both the G8 group of industrialized nations and NATO.
And leaders in the US and UK are getting pressured publicly by scores of
their former diplomats in the Middle East who challenge current policies.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has called for an Arab initiative or
diplomatic drive of some sort. This is as urgent as it is essential, and he
should coordinate such a drive with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - the
original sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative - and Egyptian President Hosni
It is not often that so many important international gatherings take place
in such a short space of time - indeed, it is akin to a certain alignment of
the stars. When an opportunity such as this one occurs for presenting a
vital international issue to the world community for resolution, it must not