Friday, March 18, 2005

Jordan Proposes New Israel Peace Strategy

King Abdullah II of Jordan has proposed a new peace strategy that drops traditional Arab demands that Israel give up all land seized in the 1967 war and offers the Jewish state normalized relations with Arab countries, according to a text of the proposal seen Friday by The Associated Press.

The proposal did not appear to have enough support to be adopted at an Arab League summit starting Monday in the Algerian capital. But even placing such a far-reaching change in strategy on the agenda would have been unthinkable in past league gatherings, suggesting new thinking in the peace process with Israel.

The Jordanian proposal does not mention specific U.N. resolutions and usual Arab demands for an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders and for the right of return of refugees, according to a text of about a dozen lines seen by the AP.

The omission suggests Abdullah, whose country signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994, wants the Arabs to accept geographical changes Israel has made in the territories and to start normalization even before a full peace is reached.

The text of Abdullah's proposal calls on Arab states to declare their "preparedness to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and establish normal relations between the Arab countries and Israel through just, comprehensive and lasting peace."

The proposal calls for any settlement to be based on "international resolutions, the principal of land for peace and the (1991) Madrid peace conference."

Arab leaders have always demanded full peace with Israel meaning a return of all occupied lands in return for normalization.

The Jordanian proposal is meant to amend a Saudi peace initiative adopted at the 2002 Arab summit held in Beirut.

The Saudi initiative offered Israel peace with all Arab nations on condition that Israel returns all land seized in the six-day war of 1967 in line with the Arab interpretation of U.N. resolution 242. The initiative also calls for the creation of a Palestinian state and a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue.