Don't Place Your Future In The Hands Of "The Lords Of War" Saudis Warn Israel
Israel Will Be "Recognised" By All Arab Sates If They Pull Back To Pre-1967 Borders
The Saudis and Arab Gulf states have clearly had enough of Israel's endless stalling on the finalisation of a two-state solution with the Palestinians and are loudly demanding Israel fall into line with a new peace plan or face the likelihood of further violence, and eventually war.
The meeting amongst the Arab states in Riyadh this week was an historical event of quite epic proportions. The Saudis shook hands with the Syrians, the Egyptians shook hands with the Iranians, who also shook hands with the Saudis, and key power players from the UN, including the Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, opened the talks. Then followed days of negotiations and working parties, conferences, speeches and discussions.
Remarkably, the United States were virtually all but invisible during the peace talks.
Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has been effectively marginalised and squeezed out of the current Big Push led by Arab states to bring the 60 year conflict between Israel and Palestine to an end.
The US may be sponsoring the talks, but they are doing so from the back of the room.
Here's the short version of the deal the Arab states, led by the Saudis, have come up with, and are waiting for Israel to accept :
...all Arab countries will officially recognize Israel in return for its withdrawal from all land occupied in the 1967 war.
A Palestinian state will be established in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with East Jerusalem as the capital. The plan also proposes granting the right of return to all Palestinian refugees.
It is the right of return for refugees that Israel opposes most vehemently.
"If Israel refuses, that means it doesn't want peace and it places everything back into the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war," he said.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seems to have gotten the message from the Saudis, and looks set to live up to his promise to work for peace with the Palestinians :
Prince Saud dismissed any further diplomatic overtures towards Israel. "It has never been proven that reaching out to Israel achieves anything," he said.
"What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done," he said. "So now it is up to the other side because if you want peace, it is not enough for one side only to want it. Both sides must want it equally."
The Israeli Prime Minister today described an Arab plan to make peace with the Jewish State as "revolutionary" and said the region could sign a final deal within five years.
Ehud Olmert made his remarks in a series of newspaper interviews this morning, after leaders of the 22 Arab countries gave their unanimous backing to a plan which would commit them to developing diplomatic relations with Israel if it first agreed to a "land-for-peace" deal with the Palestinians.
Only two states, Egypt and Jordan, currently have full diplomatic relations with Israel after signing peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, so the latest pledge for full diplomatic normalisation - which includes the hawkish Syrian regime - is regarded as hugely significant.
“There is a real possibility that Israel can sign a global peace accord with its enemies within five years," the Israeli Prime Minister said.
Asked whether he meant “all of the Arab world,” the Israeli leader replied: “yes."
Excerpts from a London Times earlier this week on the Arab summit:
Opening the summit, Mr Ban spoke of the urgency of reaching a solution, warning that the Middle East was on a knife-edge and describing the region as “more complex, more fragile and more dangerous than it has been for a very long time”.
Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor of The Times, said from Riyadh that the talks are being seen as a significant attempt to achieve some sort of progress in the Middle East peace process.
“The Saudis have really taken up the mantle on this and there is a level of expectation,” he said. “The hope is that the Arab nations can find a wording they can all accept, giving them an agreed position.”
“Previously Israel had shown little support for the initiative, but recently it has been making friendly noises towards the plans. What the US would like is for this initiative to pave the way for some sort of talks between the Quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – and Israel and the Arab nations.
“The real thorn is the issue of Palestinian refugees, with Israel rejecting the idea of vast numbers returning.”
While Saudi Arabia is "flush with money", a key reason why the Saudis have been so influential and insistent on first negotiating peace between Fatah and Hamas, and then between the Arab world and the Israelis, may have a lot to do with the ascendancy of Iran :
The menacing spectre of Iran, the rising Shia power with nuclear-tipped ambitions for regional dominance, looms large across the waters of the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia is quietly moving to contain its bellicose neighbour. Prince Saud offered conciliatory words to Iran, laced with coded criticism. "We have no inhibitions about the role of Iran," he said. "It is a large country. It wants to play a leading role in the region, and it has every right to do so. It is an historic country. But if you want to reach for leadership, you have to make sure that those you are leading are having their interests taken care of and not damaged."
Saudi Arabia has privately urged Iran to stop enriching uranium, in compliance with United Nations resolutions and lay to rest any suggestion that it is seeking nuclear weapons. Prince Saud called for a "Middle East free of nuclear weapons" with "no exceptions for anybody, be it Israel or Iran".
King Abdullah Calls For End To Palestinian Blockade
At the Arab summit, Saudi King Abdullah addressed the gathered leaders of the Muslim world and announced that the international blockade against the Palestinian government now had to end :
"It has become necessary to end the unjust blockade imposed on the Palestinian people as soon as possible so that the peace process can move in an atmosphere far from oppression and force," King Abdullah said at the opening of the summit.
Israel and the United States have urged countries to cut political and financial support for the Palestinians because Hamas, which leads the government, refuses to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept existing peace deals.
Fears are high among Arab leaders that a US-led attack on non-Arab Iran, which has refused to comply with UN demands to halt atomic work, could further destabilise their region.
Riyadh, pressed by its ally Washington to show more leadership in the region, has called on Sunni Muslim states to overcome divisions, arguing a united front will help persuade Israel to address Palestinian grievances.
Finally, it's worth taking a look back at a speech President Bush gave to the UN General Assembly in September, 2006. Should a final peace be reached between the Israelis and Palestinians, historians will cite this Bush speech as a ignition switch for the momentum that has carried talks through the past seven months to the historical events now becoming reality in the Middle East.
The world must also stand up for peace in the Holy Land. I'm committed to two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security.
I'm committed to a Palestinian state that has territorial integrity and will live peacefully with the Jewish state of Israel. This is the vision set forth in the road map -- and helping the parties reach this goal is one of the great objectives of my presidency.
The Palestinian people have suffered from decades of corruption and violence and the daily humiliation of occupation. Israeli citizens have endured brutal acts of terrorism and constant fear of attack since the birth of their nation. Many brave men and women have made the commitment to peace. Yet extremists in the region are stirring up hatred and trying to prevent these moderate voices from prevailing.This struggle is unfolding in the Palestinian territories. Earlier this year, the Palestinian people voted in a free election. The leaders of Hamas campaigned on a platform of ending corruption and improving the lives of the Palestinian people, and they prevailed.
The world is waiting to see whether the Hamas government will follow through on its promises, or pursue an extremist agenda. And the world has sent a clear message to the leaders of Hamas: Serve the interests of the Palestinian people. Abandon terror, recognize Israel's right to exist, honor agreements, and work for peace. President Abbas is committed to peace, and to his people's aspirations for a state of their own. Prime Minister Olmert is committed to peace, and has said he intends to meet with President Abbas to make real progress on the outstanding issues between them.
I believe peace can be achieved, and that a democratic Palestinian state is possible.
I'm optimistic that by supporting the forces of democracy and moderation, we can help Israelis and Palestinians build a more hopeful future and achieve the peace in a Holy Land we all want.
Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed -- it must be chosen. From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom. And the nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: Will we support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the Middle East -- or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists? America has made its choice: We will stand with the moderates and reformers.
It is unfortunate then that historians will also recognise that as President Bush gave this speech, US State Department NeoCon aligned power brokers and hardline Zionist Israelis were telling Palestine's Prime Minister Abbas that he had to destroy the "unity" government of Hamas and Fatah.
Historians will recognise that it was the Saudis who brokered the eventual peace last month between Fatah and Hamas, and brought to an end the growing civil war inside Palestine. The US and Israel, along with the UK and Australia, refused to recognise Hamas, nor deal with them in any way whatsoever. This left Abbas isolated and near powerless. He had no choice but to work with Hamas to prevent further chaos.
It is likely that when the Saudis learned what the US and Israeli aligned Neocons were up to, they realised the NeoCon-approved 'Total Chaos In The Middle East' plan was being sparked into life, and they worked fast and hard to wind back the growing tensions in their region.
The Saudis brokered the peace between Hamas and Fatah, and then the Saudis created the Arab states unity that led to the Riyadh meeting where a final peace deal was developed and handed to Israel and the United States.
The Fatah-Hamas peace deal brokered by the Saudis shocked the Israelis and the United States. It wasn't supposed to happen that way. They were not involved. And that moment marked, for the Arab states at least, the failing influence of the United States to shape the future of peace in their region.
As discussed above, the Palestinians, the Saudis, all of the Arab states, now wait to see what Israel and the United States decides to do next.Will it be peace? Or will it be war?
The Saudis have successfully let the world, and the world's media, know that the chance for final peace is now in the hands of Israel.
With Ehud Olmert's talk yesterday of a final peace within five years, the end of the conflict between Palestine and Israel has never looked so close, nor so realistic.
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