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Arab-Israel Peace Within Reach

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What appeared not to have been possible for decades may now be within reach if everything goes in accordance to proposals that are currently being formulated by the various Arab States including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and the Gulf States, plus Kuwait.

While the basic principles of the proposals appear to be fairly simple, the actual implementation and ultimate acceptance of an Arab-Israeli peace deal are extremely complicated, requiring skilful diplomacy and persistence by all concerned including the external Arab League and EU analysts that are currently involved in the process.


As mentioned, the basic principles of the proposals are fairly simply.


They involve an Israeli withdraw from Arab territory that was captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war along what is known as the 'green line'.

It would involve the return of the Golan Heights to Syria.

It would involve the establishment of Jerusalem as an international city and it would involve processes to enable the return of Palestinian refugees to their place of origin.

It would involve the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.


In return, Arab nations would fully recognise Israel as a legitimate country. The Arab States would establish normal diplomatic relations as has already taken place between Israel and Jordan, as well as between Israel and Egypt and Israel would have normal and unhindered access to Jewish sites in Jerusalem.

Arab States and the Arab League would also remove all trade barriers between its members and Israel allowing for normal trade relations between the various countries throughout the region.


While the Arab proposals are detailed and progressive, Israel has not yet formally responded as to whether or not it is willing to participate in peace negotiations along the lines as proposed.

Independent mediators would have to be appointed to supervise and structure any peace negotiations, such mediators highly likely to come from the EU, not from the US or the UN.


The reasons for the proposals being put forward at this time are multiple.


For the Arab countries the possibilities of destabilisation of their nations due to the Iraqi civil war are real. Arab countries are concerned by a possible radicalisation of the region, a radicalisation largely boosted by the US invasion of Iraq and the subsequent instability within that country. Such radicalisation has also been boosted by largely US-led aggressiveness towards Iran in relation to its nuclear activities. A comprehensive deal between Arab countries and Israel would largely eliminate Arab objections to the existence of an Israeli State.

All Arab nations, but especially those bordering Iraq, need regional stability in order to prosper and a peace deal would bolster such stability.


For Israel the problems are also multiple.


Israel needs a stable neighbourhood in order to boost its weak economy, its floundering external support base as well as its needs to be much more self-sufficient rather than having to continually rely on the US support.

With worldwide support of US foreign policy crumbling at a rate never seen before, Israel needs to act more independently.

While, in the past, Israel was often seen as more than capable of defending itself against 'all-comers', the recent conflict in Lebanon has proven that Israel continues to be vulnerable to attack by even the most basic guerrilla-type warfare strategies of an opponent, regardless of how much military hardware and air power it deploys.

The Israeli tactics deployed in Lebanon failed and lost it a lot of worldwide support in the process.

In order to prosper, Israel needs a comprehensive peace.


No doubt, opponents to any peace negotiations will be trying their hardest to either derail or destroy the process.


From the Arab side, radicals and fundamentalists will attempt to derail a peace deal while on the Israeli side, a different lot of radicals and fundamentalists will no doubt try to do the same.


While many finer details of a possible Arab-Israeli peace deal still need to be worked on the initial signs look, at least, hopeful.


I really hope that the various factions and groups within the countries involved keep their shirts on and their weapons firmly locked up during this process, as the alternatives to an Israeli-Arab peace deal would be extremely damaging for all concerned and not a pretty sight.

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