Israel / Palestine: Clear rejection

Jun 18,2016 – JORDAN TIMES EDITORIAL

In the 2002, the Arab world made a peace offer to Israel the Arab countries thought it could not refuse: normalisation of relations between the Arab region and Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, and a just settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194.

That was 14 years ago and the Arab capitals are still waiting.

They have been waiting for successive Israeli governments to accept their olive branch, but it never happened because Israel is interested neither in Arab recognition nor in making peace with the Arabs.

The formal Israeli reply came a few days ago when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers that the Arab offer of peace is outdated and a non-starter.

“If they bring the proposal from 2002 and define it as ‘take it or leave it’ — we’ll choose to leave it,” he said, adding that “if the Arab nations grasp the fact that they need to revise the Arab League proposal according to the changes Israel demands, then we can talk”.

That is a clear refusal to even consider peace, which belies Israel’s claim that it wants to arrive at some agreement, but has no Arab partner.

The truth is that the Arab Peace Initiative was never taken seriously by Israel, which, true to form, now says that the offer must be updated, another ploy that only gives it more time to carry out its designs on the occupied territories.

Realistically, under the current leadership, Israel cannot be expected to seek peace with the Palestinians, so Netanyahu’s open rejection of the 2002 Arab peace initiative should come as no surprise.

What is surprising, however, is the insistence of Israel’s allies, including the US, that the Palestinians continue seeking direct talks with Israel, knowing fully well that it is futile

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