Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal reaffirmed yesterday that the 2002 Arab peace plan which offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for full withdrawal from Arab land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
“There will be no amendment to the Arab peace initiative. We have said this 20 times before in the past and this is the last time I will say this,” Prince Saud told reporters in Riyadh.
The Saudi Foreign Minister also said on Monday that an Arab summit in Riyadh this week must produce a united stance on an Arab initiative for peace with Israel.
“If the Arabs have a clear and strong position on the initiative, the more the chance of it being adopted internationally and serious peace negotiations entered,” Prince Saud told the opening session of Arab foreign ministers meeting to prepare for the March 28-29 summit.
Most Arab states have backed the peace plan but Saudi Arabia is lobbying Islamist group Hamas, which heads the Palestinian government, to give full support to the plan.
A senior Palestinian official said Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had told Saudi leaders on Sunday his group would not voice any opposition to the Arab peace plan at the summit.
“Hamas will not contradict the Arab consensus, but will not voice a position on the Arab initiative,” the senior official, speaking to Reuters, quoted Meshaal as saying.
The summit, to be attended by Arab heads of state, is expected to relaunch the plan which offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for full withdrawal from all land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
“The summit should produce a single Arab voice on key issues such as the Palestinian question, the number one Arab issue,” Prince Saud said.
“(It) is the best framework for a comprehensive and fair resolution of not only the Palestinian-Israeli problem but the entire Arab-Israeli conflict,” he added.
Israel rejected the Arab initiative in 2002 and continues to object to some elements.
Hamas has avoided giving clear support for the plan, which appears set to become the centrepiece of international efforts to start Israeli-Palestinian talks to end the conflict.
Hamas officials have welcomed the idea of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem, but reject an explicit recognition of Israel.
The Saudi foreign minister also said the summit would be an “important chance” to promote reconciliation in Lebanon, where opposition groups led by Iranian-backed Hezbollah are trying to bring down the Saudi and Western-backed government.