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Beware of Tampering with the Arab Peace Initiative - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In its closing statement, the Damascus Summit called for the re-assessment of the peace strategy with Israel, furthermore setting the coming May as the latest deadline. This formula appears to be the middle ground in terms of the demands that were proposed during the summit with regards to the reconsideration of the Arab Peace Initiative.

Doesn’t “reassessing the peace strategy” – if that may be deemed a diplomatic expression – imply that the other option is war? And which among the Arab states is ready to declare war on Israel today?

The problem with this rhetoric is that it raises the expectations of Arab public opinion – however; it is not accompanied by any real action. Moreover, it grants Israel an opportunity it already wants; which is that the concerned parties cancel their initiative and spare Israel international embarrassment.

Another point of equal importance is: Are some parties in the Arab world aware, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan that the cancellation or disruption of the peace initiative is greater and more dangerous then the justifications put forward?

Tampering with the Arab initiative would be the equivalent opening up a Pandora’s Box. Following the nullification of the Arab initiative, as a response to Israel’s apathy or hostility, it would open the door for Egypt to demand to void its peace agreement with Israel, which would mean a war between Egypt and Israel. This matter has been raised in all the crises that have provoked Arab public opinion.

Consequently, Jordan will also demand to cancel its peace agreement with Israel, which would also mean war between Jordan and Israel. And the same applies to the Palestinian Authority (PA) – in fact, it is what Hamas specifically demands; Hamas which is backed by Syria and Iran. Therefore, the final outcome will be the prevalence of chaos that will result in changing the status quo of the entire region.

And it would not just end there; in the perpetuation of chaos with the intention of exploiting it, we will find that the situation will reach of the point of demanding the revision of the Lebanese Taif Agreement. The indicators for that exist and have been proposed.

The problem with the Arab world lies in the moderate states’ reluctance to confront the instigators of crises at a time when greedy states do not hesitate to stir up chaos so as to dominate the region and push things to the limit. That way they can reshuffle their cards and cash in on the new centers of power that have entered the games in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine.

The moderate states’ hesitation when it comes to confrontation is understandable – considering the heavy price to be paid; however the question remains: Is there another solution?

Nullifying or disrupting the Arab initiative is a new trap set for the moderate Arab states; instead of trying to unify the Palestinian ranks and striving to resolve the Lebanese presidential crisis, we find them immersed in a game of one-upmanship over the reassessment of the Arab initiative.

What is strange is the Arabs are being asked to reconsider the Arab peace initiative, which was proposed in 2002 on the grounds that it has amounted to nothing, whereas no one dares to demand that Syria reconsider its ceasefire agreement with Israel over the Golan Heights when the agreement was signed over 30 years ago [1974]. And in those years the Golan has still not been liberated!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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