Sunday, October 19, 2008

Arab Peace Plan Gains Israeli Proponents

Highlighting "land-for-peace" but cringing on "the right of return", some Israeli leaders begin responding to the Saudi sponsored, Lebanese government endorsed, comprehensive Arab Peace Plan. Ha'aretz reports:
Defense Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak said Sunday that Israeli leaders have been discussing pursuing a comprehensive Saudi peace plan, an initiative touted by the moderate Arab elements across the Middle East.

Israel ... objects to language in the Saudi plan that appears to endorse a large-scale return of Palestinian refugees to lands inside Israel. Israel says a massive influx of Palestinians would destroy the country's Jewish character.

Peres proposed merging Israel's various peace talks into one track last month at the United Nations. In a speech to the General Assembly, he called on Saudi King Abdullah to further his initiative. He has since been pushing the idea in meeting with Israeli, Arab and Western officials, his office said.

In Sunday's interview, Barak said he was in full agreement with Peres, and had discussed the peace plan with Livni as well.
Meanwhile, unfounded rumors of an American-backed push for progress along the Syrian-Israeli track continue to make some headlines:
Jerusalem sources denied over the weekend any knowledge of a U.S. proposal to Syria, to the effect that Israel would pull out of the Golan if Syria severs its ties with Iran, as reported in the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida on Friday.

President George W. Bush reportedly made the offer in a secret letter that was delivered to Syrian President Bashar Assad by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his recent visit to Damascus. Bush wants to advance the Israel-Syria negotiations before leaving the White House in January, al-Jarida reported.

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