Members of the Arab League signaled to President Donald Trump Wednesday that they are open to working with him in brokering a peace deal in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Hosted by Jordan, the one-day summit reaffirmed the controversial 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which called for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights and other “occupied” Arab territories, a resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. In exchange, the Arab states agreed to sign a peace agreement with Israel, and establish normative relations with the country.
“There are positive aspects and negative aspects to it,”PM Benjamin Netnanyahu said of the initiative in 2015. “This initiative is 13 years old, and the situation in the Middle East has changed since it was first proposed. But the general idea — to try and reach understandings with leading Arab countries — is a good idea.”
In June of 2016, however, Netanyahu said Israel would never accept the peace initiative as a “take it or leave it” proposal.
“If the Arab nations grasp the fact that they need to revise the Arab League proposal according to the changes Israel demands, then we can talk,” Netanyahu said at the time. “But if they bring the proposal from 2002 and define it as ‘take it or leave it’ – we’ll choose to leave it.”
The summit was attended by Trump Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, who spoke with Jordanian, Qatari, and Egyptian foreign ministers, as well as Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. According to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, Greenblatt was optimistic, agreeing with Trump that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians “is not only possible, but would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world.”
In addition to Greenblatt, 21 kings, presidents, and top officials were present at the summit , according to a Times of Israel report. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was notably absent due to his suspension from the 22-member Arab League in light of the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Speaking with Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad in advance of the summit, Abbas, 82, said the Palestinian leadership would not present any new diplomatic or peace initiatives at the event, according to Haaretz.
“We are ready and willing to cooperate with President Trump to achieve a just, sustainable peace based on the principles of the international community,” Abbas stated.
In April, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to travel to Washington to meet with President Trump for the first time since the latter assumed office.