Arab leaders opened a key summit Wednesday to relaunch a land-for-peace offer to Israel, with US allies trying to rally other Arabs behind ways to win Israeli and Western acceptance of the deal, despite reluctance from Syria.
The peace initiative is the centerpiece of the two-day summit, which convened in the Saudi capital at a time when the United States has shown some progress in maneuvering all sides into place for a resumption in long-stalled Mideast peace negotiations.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and other Arab officials said Israel must snap up the chance and accept the Arab offer. "If Israel refuses, that means it doesn't want peace. Then (the conflict) goes back into the hands of the lords of war," al-Faisal said Tuesday.
The initiative, first launched by the Arab summit in 2002, offers Israel recognition and permanent peace with all Arab countries in return for Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war. It also calls for setting up a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and a "just solution" to the issue of Palestinian refugees forced out of lands in what is now Israel.