Egyptian FM meets with members of 'Israeli Initiative'

Delegation offers Elaraby peace plan based on Saudi Initiative; group invited following Tel Aviv press conference where they unveiled the plan.

May 19, 2011 18:57
2 minute read.
Arab League head Nabil Elaraby

Elaraby 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israelis from the grassroots “Israeli Initiative” peace group met in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian Foreign Minister and Arab League Chief Nabil Elaraby.

The delegation included former Shin Bet chief Yaacov Perry, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman, former Mossad head Danny Yatom, and former IDF chief of General Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak.

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During the meeting, the delegation presented Elaraby with the group’s proposals for a settlement of the Israeli- Arab conflict based on a 2002 Saudi Arabian initiative.

According to the Israeli Initiative, the invitation to visit Cairo came from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, which contacted the group following the unveiling of its peace plan at an April press conference in Tel Aviv.

Like the Saudi proposal, the Israeli Initiative calls for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines and a compromise on the Palestinian refugee issue.

“We are traveling to Egypt after we were invited by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to present the initiative,” Perry said ahead of the visit. “To our dismay, the prime minister of Israel did not meet with us before in spite of the efforts we are undertaking.

We hope that the meeting will support regional negotiations, which we believe are in the interest of the State of Israel.”

In Cairo on Thursday, Perry reportedly told his Egyptian hosts that the group hoped “the message of peace that is being heard in our meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister will encourage the Israeli leadership to push forward a diplomatic initiative.”

During the meeting, Elaraby was said to have told the delegation that “it is up to Israel to take advantage of the winds of change and democracy in the Arab world in order to reach a peace agreement.”

The Israeli Initiative said that Elaraby told the visitors that “from Egypt’s point of view, there is no alternative to peace. Egypt must agree to peace with Israel and the process that will bring it. A solution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis is the key to reaching peace in the region.”

Gillerman said that he and the rest of the delegation believed that “peace between Israel and Egypt is a strategic asset for both countries and must serve as a model for relations between Israel and other Arab states.”

The Cairo trip followed a visit by the delegation to Ramallah in late April, where it presented the plan to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. That meeting, at the Mukata, came a day after the Fatah-Hamas unity pact was announced and was jammed with members of the local and foreign press.

During the Ramallah meeting, Yatom said he believed the Hamas-Fatah unity deal “will promote the negotiation and the process in order to achieve peace.”

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