The initiative adopted by the Arab leaders at the Beirut Summit last March offers a unique opportunity and a fresh basis for movement in the peace process. It extends for the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict a comprehensive offer for full peace and normal relations between Israel and all the Arab states in return for Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied after June 4th 1967, as well as an agreed solution to the refugee problem and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Jordan had been a critical and vocal player in bringing forward this resolution in the Arab Summit and in advancing it in all future steps in the peace process.
Statements by His Excellency Dr. Marwan Muasher, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
"The Arab initiative unanimously endorsed in Beirut in March of this year is a very serious attempt to squarely face the needs of both sides, and to satisfactorily address them. Consider the language of the Arab initiative regarding Israeli needs:
“Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended”: For the first time, Arab states commit to a collective offer to end the conflict with Israel. This is probably one of the most important demands of the average Israeli citizen--the knowledge that the conflict is terminated, and that no further claims on Israel or its territory will be put forward by Arabs--all Arabs.
“Enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all states of the region”: The security of Israel, according to this article, would be guaranteed through one collective peace agreement with full security provisions, and would be assured not only by neighboring Arab states, but by ALL Arab states, none excluded. This has always been a key Israeli demand. Despite Arab fears of Israel, brought about by Israel’s occupation of parts of three Arab states, one cannot deny the existence of a genuine fear on part of the average Israeli regarding his or her own safety. The above article assures Israel that its security fears are understood, and will be addressed by all Arab states.
“Establish normal relations with Israel”: This signals full recognition of Israel and the establishment of normal relations, such as those between an Arab state and any other state in the world.
“Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem TO BE AGREED UPON in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194”: For the first time, the Arab world commits itself to an AGREED solution to the refugee problem, thus addressing Israel’s concern that the demographic character of the Jewish state not be threatened. To be sure, the initiative calls for achieving a just solution of the problem in accordance with UNGA Resolution 194, but it points out that the implementation of that resolution has to be agreed. The key point here is that Arabs understand well that the implementation has to be both fair and realistic, and certainly agreed upon. In other words, there is no possibility of a solution that will lead to the changing of the character of the Jewish state. Fortunately, there have been many suggested solutions, at Taba and elsewhere between Palestinian and Israeli interlocutors that point to the possibility of reaching a pragmatic settlement to this problem. It is true as well that the Arab initiative also addresses Arab needs: Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied in 1967, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. But previous negotiations between Israel, Palestinians and other Arab states have shown that these goals are well within reach.
These are powerful pledges by all Arab states which should not be ignored. To those who are skeptical of Arab intentions, let me point out a seldom mentioned point. Notwithstanding all the violence of the past year, and the hardening of positions in the Arab world (as well as in Israel), not one Arab state has asked to withdraw its signature from the Arab Initiative, though there were many opportunities to do so. The Arab Initiative is proving its resilience day in, day out.
There has been another new and positive element despite this bleak environment: The emergence of a pro-active, pragmatic Arab diplomacy, led by three Arab states that are key to the conflict: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. One should not underestimate the positive contribution that Saudi Arabia has brought to the process. With their huge Arab and Islamic credentials, the Saudis have consistently signaled a willingness to play a very pro-active role in the process, bringing along with them the consent of most of the Arab and Islamic worlds. Here we should remember that Jordan and Egypt have already signed peace treaties with Israel. The involvement of Saudi Arabia, which does not have any territorial disputes with Israel, should not be underestimated.
Arab diplomacy has not stopped with the launching of the Arab initiative, however. Ever since President Bush made his speech on June 24, 2001, committing the United States to a two-state solution in three years as a solution to the conflict, key Arab states have tirelessly worked with the US and the Quartet to develop a realistic plan to see this vision implemented. It is a plan that fully realizes Israel’s security needs, and deals with them. The plan should be strong enough to guarantee that children can board a bus for school without fear. It should also be strong enough to guarantee children under the age of five a life free of malnutrition. Jordan has made clear its opposition to suicide bombings on moral and political grounds. But while we understand the emphasis on security FIRST, it cannot be security ONLY. We need to give people hope that they will live free of occupation, and that their children will not only survive, but prosper as well.
The road map offers all that. It outlines a series of mutual commitments by both parties, targets to meet these commitments, and a monitoring and assessment mechanism by the Quartet to ensure that commitments are being fulfilled in time. To be sure, it is not perfect. All sides have reservations about parts of it, but it does have all the elements for a successful resolution of the conflict if it is adhered to, and accepted as a package. It does offer a tunnel, bumpy at times, but one that leads to light.
This road map should also lead to a successful conclusion not only on the Palestinian-Israeli track, but on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks as well. We do not view comprehensiveness as a concession to Arabs, as some have attempted to do. Comprehensiveness means the ability to trigger all the elements of the Arab initiative, in particular the ones I outlined above. We hope, therefore, that the three-year framework will apply to the Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese tracks with Israel in a way that can bring a permanent, comprehensive peace by mid-2005.
Optimistic, maybe, but certainly doable. Today, we have a clear international consensus on how to solve the conflict, going further than UNSC Resolution 242 did. It offers a two-state solution within a fixed time period, two elements missing from that famous resolution. More importantly, we have a willingness, and a contractual commitment, from all Arab states, to see an end to the longest conflict of the twentieth century. "
Remarks by His Excellency Dr. Marwan Muasher, Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 29, 2003 during the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations.
on behalf of Jordan, all stakeholders, especially members of the Quartet, to pursue their efforts towards a scrupulous implementation of the Road Map without any modifications and in a way that ensures the establishment of a Palestinian state by the year 2005, with Jerusalem its capital, and the termination of the Israeli occupation of all. the Arab territories occupied in 1967. All this will be in line with the United Nations resolutions and the Arab peace initiative, both of which constitute a key component of the Road Map and provide a framework for peace. A peace that is acceptable to all peoples of the region. A peace that fulfills their long-standing aspirations.
Remarks by His Excellency Dr. Marwan Muasher, Minister of Foreign Affairs on May 13, 2003 during a press conference with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Jordan's position, in particular, in support of the road map emanates from the road map adopting the Arab Initiative as one of the bases for a solution and thereby defining the outlines of the end game, adopting a three-year framework. This is the first international document that adopts a specific timeframe for the end of the occupation and adopts a monitoring mechanism to ensure that all the parties are meeting their commitments on time.
Remarks by His Excellency Dr. Marwan Muasher, Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 23, 2002 at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"For the first time since this conflict started, the whole Arab world is promising Israel collective security measures. The whole Arab world is promising Israel a collective peace treaty and normal relations -- not with neighbor Arab states, but with every single one of them."
"The whole Arab world is promising an agreed solution to the refugee problem, therefore assuring Israel that its demographic nature will not be threatened by any solution. And the whole Arab world is promising an end to the conflict -- not further claims."
" And let me add also that the Arab initiative has already proved its resilience. Despite all the difficult conditions of the past year, not one single Arab country said it wants to withdraw its signature." [ see full text ]
The Arab Peace Initiative
The Council of the League of Arab States at the Summit Level, at its 14th Ordinary Session,
- Reaffirms the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo extraordinary Arab summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a comparable commitment on the part of the Israeli government.
- Having listened to the statement made by his royal highness Prince Abdullah Bin Abdullaziz, the crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in which his highness presented his initiative, calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land for peace principle, and Israel's acceptance of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel.
- Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
a. Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights to the lines of June 4, 1967 as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
b. Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
c. The acceptance of the establishment of a Sovereign Independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since the 4th of June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
a. Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
b. Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab Countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighborliness and provide future generations with security, stability, and prosperity.
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organizations to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the security council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim States and the European Union.