On March 28th and 29th the Arab league held its annual summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Arab League was inaugurated in 1945 in order – as its charter explains ‘to develop unity amongst Arab states in cultural, economic and social affairs.’ Since then the Arab league summits have become nothing more than a talking shop where Arab leaders have the opportunity to show their treachery as well as using the summits to ease tensions at home by issuing declarations in support for Muslim issues across the world which in reality are not worth the paper they are written on.
The 2003 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh descended into a public slanging match, shown on television, which was eventually pulled off air. Prior to being taken off air Izat Ibrahim the Iraqi vice president under Saddam Husain taunted Kuwait’s foreign minister, ‘May Allah curse your mustache, he carried on ‘shut up you minion, you agent, you monkey’. Libyan leader Muhammer Ghadafi accused Saudi Arabia of having made ‘an alliance with the devil’ when it asked the US to provide troops to protect it against Iraq during the first gulf war. The Saudi crown prince replied by calling Ghaddafi ‘an agent for colonialism.’
What is clear is that successive Arab league summits have highlighted the betrayal of the Muslim rulers; the organization via its various summits has made peace with Israel, it legitimised the selling of Palestine via the PLO, it supported the killing of Muslims by Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and in 2003 agreed the Saudi proposal in recognizing the State of Israel. The initiative, first introduced by Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah in 2002, calls for all of the Arab states to normalize relations with Israel after an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. This move in 2002 was a dramatic reversal of more than fifty years of rejecting the right of Israel to even exist. The declaration contained clauses which ‘Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region and ‘Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.’ The then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dismissed the initiative out of hand and the Bush administration remained muted on the matter.
Beginning in 2006, the Arab peace initiative assumed new importance, as Arab States tried to get the Hamas government to agree to the initiative, which would grant legitimacy to Israel if it met Arab terms. Although derided by Israel at the time the current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now guardedly welcoming the plan.
The Arab league members in Riyadh endorsed the Saudi initiative this week and in the final communiqué read at the close of the summit, it described the initiative package as "just and comprehensive peace as a strategic option for the Arab nation in accordance with the Arab peace initiative," and based on "the land for peace" formula. The treacherous proposal includes the clause that Israel withdraws from all territories occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, (which is acceptance of Israel’s right to keep all territory seized before this time). In a pre-emptive attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967, Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal. This put Israel in a position to influence terms with the Arab states which surrounded it and gave Israel security, which it desperately needed. The principle of land-for-peace was formed based on Israel giving up land won in the 1967 war in return for peace deals recognizing Israeli borders and its right to security. This was after Britain via the United Nations established the UN Partition plan in 1947, which imposed 57% territory to Israel with Palestine becoming 42% of its former self. In the 1967 war Israeli occupation increased further with its territorial gains and today Israel is 78% of historic Palestine
Other clauses included in the initiative are ‘to provide a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem,’ over 4 million Muslims were thrown out of their homes for the creation of Israel and have also been displaced due to the conflict, however this clause provided no detailed steps on how this will be achieved. Israel has demanded ratification for the initiative to even move forward, Israeli newspapers on the 2nd March quoted Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, as saying that Israel would not accept the Arab peace plan as it was. She said “there should be no references to the right of the Palestinians displaced in the 1948 Middle East war to return to their homes inside Israel.” This clause on the Palestinian refugee problem shows the spineless nature of the Muslim rulers in not explicitly demanding the right of millions of refugees to return back to the homes they were kicked out of. For example, French TV recently interviewed Syrian President Bashar Assad, and excerpts were published by Syria's official news agency. Assad revealed the extent of his betrayal by inferring the right of return of refugees was expendable when he said, “that while the lands occupied in 1967 must be returned, other issues are open for negotiations”.
The betrayal was further exposed by the Israeli press who confirmed Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Israel have recently held secret talks to formulate a new diplomatic-financial initiative aimed at resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, by offering compensation to those willing to stay in their countries of residence. Negotiations were led by senior American officials, and included Saudi secretary-general of the National Security Council, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and top Israeli officials. According to the new initiative, refugees who agreed to remain in their countries of residence would receive financial compensation. Those who insisted on realizing the right of return would only be allowed to return to the Palestinian territories. This shows Saudi Arabia is not interested in having its initiative realized as it secretly is concluding deals with the enemy.
In return for realizing all the conditions in the initiative the Arab league will recognize the establishment of a sovereign and ‘independent’ Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and then the Arab countries would in turn recognize Israel, enter into peace agreements with it, and establish normal relations with it. Jordan's foreign minister at the time described ‘the Arab initiative put forth at the Beirut Summit in March 2002, offers comprehensive peace in the region based on the internationally recognized formulation of "land for peace" a return to June 4, 1967, borders in exchange for normal relations and a collective peace treaty.’
In reality what the Arab initiative and the summit represent is nothing other than the fruition of the US plan for the region. The creation of a Palestinian state which resembles nothing other than a prison, with those displaced not ever returning and the creation of permanent borders for Israel which the Muslim world will need to accept. The treachery becomes even more apparent as Israel and the US preoccupied with domestic problems have placed the Palestine issue well down the priority list. The present efforts being undertaken by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to kick-start the peace process is no more then a symbolic gesture.
Ehud Olmert’s government is deeply unpopular and engulfed in numerous scandals. It is very likely that Ehud Olmert will not even survive such a crisis, which will require fresh elections in order to form a new Israeli government; this will delay the implementation of the US road map and any final status resolutions. At the same time despite Ehud Olmert’s weakness, his government like its predecessor has sanctioned the construction of fresh settlements in the West Bank — a move intended to foil the US attempts to re-start the peace process. At the same time Ehud Olmert has proceeded to exploit Hamas’s credentials and its repudiation of Israel to cut short Palestinian demands for peace and continue unilaterally to redefine the road map. With the US Presidential elections looming in 2008 the Republican Party, as well as the Democratic Party require the Jewish lobby’s support to get elected. This means that it will be 2009 before the US is able to mount enough pressure to coerce Israel to make necessary compromises with the Palestinians, and bring an end to the protracted dispute.
The Saudi initiative not only shows Saudi Arabia’s treacherous nature but also shows it is nothing more than a subordinate state to the US.