Obama Administration Dusts Off Old Peace Plan in Mideast Conflict
The Obama administration is exploring whether a long-abandoned initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia 11 years ago could become the basis for a regional peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.
With U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry due to arrive in the region over the weekend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been conferring with other Arab leaders on the viability of the plan, which calls for a normalization of relations between Israel and all the Arab states in exchange for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed in interviews that President Barack Obama raised the possibility of using the Arab Peace Initiative, as the plan was known, as a framework for an agreement when he was in the region last month. “It was raised directly by Obama during his visit and during his closed-door discussion with the Palestinian leadership,” said a senior Palestinian official directly involved in the talks. “It was made clear to the Palestinian leadership that this would be the new direction of U.S. diplomacy in the region.”
The official said White House officials laid the groundwork for renewal of the Arab peace initiative two weeks before Mr. Obama’s visit to Israel and the West Bank when they spoke with Palestinian negotiators in Washington. “They were told then that this would be the focus, and that it had great potential,” said the Palestinian official, who asked not to be further identified because of the talks’ sensitivity.