Jordanian and Egyptian envoys have opened talks with Israel over a landmark Arab League land-for-peace plan. The one-day visit to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is the first by Arab League representatives to promote the initiative which calls on Israel to give up occupied Arab land in exchange for Arab recognition of the Jewish state.
The deal also envisages the creation of a Palestinian state and a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees. Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the visit could mark a crucial turning point in Middle East relations. “I believe that the Arab peace initiative and the dialogue with the Arab working group is an historic opportunity for Israeli-Arab relations, but not less important than the Israeli-Palestinian process,” she said.
These sentiments were echoed by her Jordanian counterpart, Abdelelah al-Khatib, who said the talks could provide a platform for peace. “The time has come for genuine peace – peace that will work for both the Palestinians and Israelis and all the people of our region. Now, more than ever before, people need to see results. And these results mean viable independence for the Palestinian people, security for Israel and a future of hope for all of us,” he said.
However neither Israel nor the Arab envoys spelled out how significant progress could be made while the Palestinian territories remain divided between Hamas and Fatah.