Saudi delegation meets Israeli MKs in Jerusalem to push Arab peace initiative
Israel's Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai this week week met with former Saudi General Anwar Eshki in Jerusalem this week, the Israeli daily Haaretz reports.
According to the report, on the unofficial visit, Eshki was accompanied by a delegation of Saudi business people and academics.
During the visit they met with members of the Knesset to discuss advancing the prospects of the Arab peace initiative, said Haaretz. Additionally, Eshki travelled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Friday's meeting, arranged by left-wing Meretz MK Esawi Freige, was held at Jerusalem's King David hotel. It was attended by Zionist Union MKs Omer Bar-Lev and Ksenia Svetlova as well as another Meretz MK Michal Rozin, said Haaretz.
Freige, Rozin and Svetlova told Haaretz following the meeting that the Saudi delegation desired to advance discourse on the Arab peace initiative.
"The Saudis want to open up to Israel," Freige told Haaretz. "This is a strategic step for them. They said they want to continue what former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat started. They want to get closer to Israel. This is clearly evident."
The peace proposal put forward by the late King Abdullah, known as the Arab Peace Initiative, offered Israel blanket recognition from 22 Arab states in return for an independent state for the Palestinians.
Last month Haaretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed that the Initiative would never form the basis of peace talks, saying that he would never accept the terms of the original proposal.
While he expressed his support for the Arab nations' willingness to normalize their relations with Israel should peace be achieved, he opposed the condition that Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders — with land swaps — including leaving the Golan Heights. He was also opposed to any Palestinian right of return.
The Arab League proposal — based on a Saudi peace proposal — also stated that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
This is not the first meeting between Gold and Eshki. In June of last year they met in Washington at the Council for Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank, to discuss the mutual interest of Israel and Saudi Arabia in blocking a nuclear Iran.
While Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic ties, they are seen as sharing regional security interests particularly over Iran.
Eshki, a retired general, heads the Middle East Center for Strategic Studies in Jeddah.
The attempted advancement of the Arab peace initiative comes as France is working to push it's own peace process with the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Palestinians have welcomed the French initiative while Israel has rejected it, saying it will only push the prospects of peace further away and instead has urged direct talks with the Palestinians.
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The Saudis are starting to get it. Israel isn't their enemy. Extreme Islam is, as is Iran, Hezbollah, bath party, etc. Terrorists.
Every time there's the slightest hint of any kind of progress, either with Palestinians or any other Arab league entity, members of the Joint List go crazy. This time it's Hadash instead of Balad, because Ahmad Tibi and Hanin Zoabi are scared to incur the wrath of the Knesset by opening their mouths again, for the moment. I'm all for free speech, but this is plain obstructionism. Maybe the Arab League states are beginning to realize that their creation of the "Palestinian people" has backfired on them.
Wolfy, those 'Palestinian People' were created in Palestine by their parents who also lived in Palestine. Were that 'European' Jewish-Israelis could claim the same.
In case you forgot where to find a history book Michael, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria for over 3000 years. The actual Palestinians in British Mandated Palestine were actually the Jews, not Arabs. But like you said, the Palestinian (Arabs) are merely a modern creation (1967). Kind of explains why "Palestine's" one and only museum is empty!
"there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria for over 3000 years." ... and no doubt a continuous non-Jewish presence, Neil. "But like you said, the Palestinian (Arabs) are merely a modern creation (1967)." So, they arrived 19 years after the Jewish hordes came from Europe and Russia?