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Saudis host meet at UN on Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but snub Israel

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, center, leads his delegation at the Arab League foreign ministers annual meeting in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, center, leads his delegation at the Arab League foreign ministers annual meeting in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Saudi Arabia hosted a closed ministerial meeting at the United Nations on Tuesday night marking the 20th anniversary of the proposal of the Arab Peace Initiative, but did not invite Israel, two Arab diplomats confirmed to The Times of Israel.

Representatives from almost every member in the Arab League, including the Palestinians attended, while Israel did not receive an invitation.

The Saudi Al Arabiya news outlet, which broke the story, says that the US sent Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf and that the UK and several EU countries were also represented at the evening session.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell, Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit addressed the meeeting, Al Arabiya reports.

Ministers discussed proposals to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process based on the Arab Peace Initiative and similar plans, one Arab diplomat tells The Times of Israel.

The holding of such a session and its attendance by such senior diplomats from the Middle East, the EU and the US appears to represent a blow to Israeli efforts to dismiss the Arab Peace Initiative as an outdated formula for peace.

The 2002 proposal offers Israel full normalized relations with all 22 members of the Arab League if Israel agrees to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and with a just resolution for Palestinian refugees.

The initiative was quickly rejected by Israel, whose governments have become increasingly antagonistic to the demand that it pull back its troops and settlements to the pre-1967 borders, arguing that they are indefensible and that its citizens should not have be removed from territory in the West Bank to which the Jewish people have ancient ties.

More recently, it has pointed to the 2020 signing of the Abraham Accords as proof of the Arab Peace Initiative’s irrelevance. Those deals brokered by the US saw the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco agree to normalize relations with Israel before a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Those three countries who signed the Abraham Accords are slated to send their foreign ministers to the Tuesday session.

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