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(photo credit: AP [file])
The Council for Peace and Security, a center-left leaning group of former IDF officers and security officials, is recommending to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he tell the world in his address at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday that Israel accepts the Arab peace initiative as a starting point for discussions.
"The Arab initiative is a good basis for negotiations, and Netanyahu should say that Israel will work with it after sitting with the leadership of the Arab League and discussing it," Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Rothschild, the head of the council, said on Tuesday.
Amos Lapidot, another member of the group's leadership and a former commander of the IAF, said Netanyahu should say there were "good things" in the plan, and that now was the time to delve into its details.
The Council for Peace and Security, a forum that Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed on Tuesday evening, has been pushing the plan for months.
"This is the best thing out there," said Rothschild, "and it can help move things forward."
The Arab peace initiative calls for a complete Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, including in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as well as the "just" resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with 1948's UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
Rothschild said the initiative was important since that both Israel and the Palestinians would need Arab support to hammer out any agreement.
"If we will go to the public today and talk about a deal with the Palestinians, people will say that they don't believe it, that Israel left the Gaza Strip and received rockets instead," he said. "But if we go and say that we have a bilateral deal, with peace dividends from the entire Arab world, then that is a different story."
The idea of the Arab world making gestures to Israel at the beginning of the diplomatic process has been picked up by US President Barack Obama, who discussed it during his address in Cairo last week, and who is seeking concrete steps from the Arab world toward Israel.
"The Arab states must recognize that the Arab peace initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities," he said.
Rothschild said his sense was that "the Arab word is willing to give more than we think. They are waiting to see what we are willing to do."
The Palestinians needed the Arab world as an umbrella to make tough decision regarding the Palestinian refugee issue and Jerusalem, Rothschild said.
No Palestinian would be able to compromise on those issues without first getting backing form the Arab world, something the Arab initiative provided, he said.