US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel from Amman on Thursday to carefully consider the 2002 Arab League peace initiative,
in a comment that could presage this initiative becoming part of the
terms of reference for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with
22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations - a total of 57 nations that are
standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel,"
he said in Amman, where he met officials from Arab League member
countries and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
plan, put forward by Saudi Arabia at an Arab League summit in Beirut in
2002, offered full recognition of Israel but only if it returned fully
to the June 4, 1967 lines, including on the Golan Heights and in east
Jerusalem, and to a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees. Softening
the plan three months ago, a top Qatari official raised the possibility of land swaps
in setting future Israeli-Palestinian borders.
officials pointed out that Jerusalem never rejected the plan, and that
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said consistently that if the
initiative is the basis of discussion, it is acceptable, but if it is
considered a take-it-or-leave-it dictate, it is unacceptable.
"Israel never rejected the plan," the official stressed. "Our position has been nuanced."
voiced confidence he was on track toward achieving soon a resumption of
peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, saying gaps had been
"We have been able to narrow these gaps very
significantly. And so we continue to get closer and I continue to remain
hopeful that the sides can soon be able to come and sit at the same
His meeting with Abbas in the Jordanian capital was
Kerry's second in as many days. It was to be followed, according to a
Palestinian official, by a briefing on the US proposals that Abbas will
give to other PLO leaders on Thursday ahead of a decision on whether
they should resume negotiations with Israel.
The Arab League endorsed Kerry's peace efforts Wednesday, saying in a statement carried on the Jordanian news agency that it hoped this could lead to a two-state solution.
The statement said that the Arab League delegation in Amman affirmed "its support for Kerry's great efforts to revive peace talks between the Palestinian and Israeli sides and pointed out that the ideas put forward by Kerry before the committee provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations, especially in new and important political, economic and security issues".
The League delegation "expressed hope that this will lead to a launch of serious negotiations to address all final status issues to end the conflict and achieve a just and comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and Israelis which will bless the region with security, stability and prosperity."
The delegation emphasized "its commitment to the Arab peace initiative, stressing that any future agreement must be based on a two-state solution through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lines of the fourth of June 1967 with a limited exchange of territory of the same value and size".
The League officials expressed "appreciation to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their efforts and their commitment to achieve peace" and also "their commitment to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East in cooperation with the United States and with all relevant parties."
Neither US nor
Palestinian officials have given details of the discussions between
Abbas and Kerry, who is making his sixth visit to the region since he
took office in February.
Israeli officials declined to comment on the matter until after the PLO leaders make their decision.
positive Palestinian decision, if one were to emerge on Thursday or
soon thereafter, would be the first tangible sign of progress in Kerry's
nearly six-month drive to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,
now largely overshadowed by upheaval in Egypt and civil war in Syria.
president will present the offer made to him by Mr. Kerry in order to
make a decision about it," Wasel Abu Youssef, a Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) official, told Reuters in Ramallah of Abbas's plan to
brief PLO colleagues on Thursday.
Israeli officials said they were unaware of any plans by Kerry to visit Israel on his latest trip.
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