Arab League chief rejects Jordanian proposal

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Arab summit will not accept Jordan’s proposal that revised traditional Arab demands in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel, the Arab League’s secretary-general said Sunday.

The proposal had dropped the traditional Arab call for recognizing Israel in exchange for the Jewish state’s withdrawal from land it has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

“If Israel implements all its commitments, all the Arab countries will be ready to normalize relations with Israel. We are not going to move even one millimeter away from this,” Amr Moussa told reporters after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Algerian capital ahead of Tuesday’s summit.

Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem concurred with Moussa, saying at a joint press conference that the summit “will not be the summit of normalization.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom praised the Jordanian proposal on Sunday.

“We are very satisfied by the Jordanian initiative,” Shalom said after welcoming the newly-installed Egyptian ambassador to Israel. “I think we can make progress with other Arab countries.”

Jordan’s proposal called for “an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict” and the establishment of normal relations “in return for a lasting and comprehensive settlement,” according to an Arab diplomat who read the text to The Associated Press.

No reference to pre-1967 borders
It omitted any reference to U.N. resolutions and Arab demands calling for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders and for the right of return of Palestinian refugees. When nine of the Arab League’s 22 members expressed reservations, the draft was amended in Algiers Saturday to reaffirm Arab commitment to peace with Israel in return for the land Arabs lost to the Jewish state in 1967.

Shalom said that the very fact that Jordan even put its proposal before an Arab forum was indicative of a change in the diplomatic climate and showed moderate Arab states “testing the water” ahead of renewing or establishing relations with Israel.