'Abbas to enlist Arab moderates' help'

Aides: Plans include Saudi summit c'tee; Eisin: Israel could welcome Arab role.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday explored practical ways of getting moderate Arab states involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, Abbas aides said. The proposals are still in their early stages, said advisers Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erekat. One idea is to appoint a committee at next week's Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia, the aides said. The group, likely to be headed by Saudi Arabia, would lead efforts to revive a 2002 Arab peace initiative that calls for an Israeli withdrawal from all lands it occupied in the 1967 Mideast War, including the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, in exchange for Arab recognition.
  • Rice: Israel, Palestinians must establish 'common agenda' Such a committee could then work with members of the Quartet of Mideast mediators - the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - as well as the Palestinians and Israel, "as a form of political umbrella," Abed Rabbo said. "These are ideas under discussion," he said. Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said Israel might welcome such an Arab role. "The prime minister has said in the past that the involvement of moderate Arab countries is a positive idea as a stabilizing factor in the region, as opposed to extremist countries setting the agenda," she said. She said bringing in moderate countries is something Israel supports as a "general notion," but she declined further comment until specific details are receiving. In 2000, the failure of the Mideast peace summit at Camp David was attributed in part to the lack of support by the Arab world. On her way to the Middle East, Rice she would talk to Arab states about active diplomacy based on the 2002 peace initiative, "not just putting it in the middle of the table and leaving it at that."