The Arab Peace Initiative: The Only Viable Solution for PeaceNearly two decades after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented the Arab League with its peace initiative, one must ask: Has a better solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict been proposed since? This question is especially relevant today, as tensions rise in the West Bank and support for the peace camp dwindles in the Arab world. It is clear that dramatic changes are needed in this region, where death is becoming routine.
Imagine if Israel had embraced the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s initiative and agreed to establish a Palestinian state based on the borders of June 1967. A just solution to the refugee problem could have been reached and the Arab-Israeli conflict would have been resolved. Unfortunately, Israeli governments have become experts in procrastinating and manipulating peace talks to advance their own agendas. They hope to annex more Palestinian lands, rendering the establishment of a Palestinian state meaningless. Today, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s government appears determined to eradicate the Palestinian issue altogether. They openly express their desire to displace Palestinians in Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula and consider forcibly transferring West Bank residents to Jordan.
Israel’s leaders have failed to realize that their arsenal of weapons can cause death and devastation, but it cannot extinguish the will of the Palestinian people to live and survive on their land. Israel’s greatest obstacle to peace is its belief that it has the right to seize Palestinian lands and justify the persecution of Palestinians.
In a recent article, Israeli writer Meir Sheetrit, a former government minister, emphasized that the 2002 peace initiative remains the only sustainable solution for Israelis and the entire region. He laments the missed opportunities since then, with successive Israeli prime ministers failing to respond adequately to the initiative. Sheetrit proposed that Ariel Sharon should have visited Saudi Arabia to discuss the initiative, utilizing the kingdom’s moral influence and financial support for the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, the past 20 years have seen countless wasted opportunities by Israeli governments. Prime ministers like Sharon and [Ehud] Olmert recognized the viability of the Saudi initiative but failed to take necessary action. It is uncertain whether Netanyahu is willing to listen now, especially given the perceived threat of Hamas and the deterioration of relations with the Palestinian Authority. Relying solely on American support and maintaining inflexible positions are an unrealistic dream for Israel. Therefore, the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 remains the only viable solution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The crisis will likely persist for decades unless sane and rational individuals in Washington and Tel Aviv embrace this initiative and work toward lasting peace. – Emil Amin.