PARIS — The Arab Peace Initiative is “still on the table,” and is the best way to reach a solution to the decades-long Israeli-Arab conflict, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Friday in Paris, where diplomats and officials from 28 countries gathered to discuss ways to kick-start the long moribund Middle East peace process.
“The initiative has all the elements needed for a final resolution,” al-Jubeir said, adding that it could not be “diluted” and that he hoped “Israel will wise-up” to the opportunity it constitutes.
Responding to a question in Arabic, al-Jubeir said that the API, first drafted by Riyadh in 2002 and subsequently backed by the Arab League, has not been and would not be amended. Israel has raised objections to elements of the initiative, which calls for an Israeli withdrawal from all territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War and an agreed resolution to the issue of Palestinian refugees, in return for normalized relations with the Arab world.
“The Arab Peace Initiative does not need changing or adjusting, it is on the table as is,” al-Jubeir said, repeating that the essence of the plan is Israel’s return to the “1967 lines” and the establishment of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The Saudi foreign minister also said that the issue of natural resources such as water needed resolving, and called for Israel to halt settlement construction.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday partially endorsed the initiative, offering to negotiate with the Arab world the parameters of the plan.
“I take this opportunity to make clear that I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors. The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu declared in the Knesset.
“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” Netanyahu said, making his statement first in Hebrew and then repeating it in English.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report