The Arab League and Mid-East Peace
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 20th September, 2007
In the debate on Israel-Palestine at the LibDem conference in Brighton yesterday, I stressed the need to integrate the Arab League into new efforts to find a peaceful settlement to the festering Middle East situation, despite reluctance on the part of the Israeli government to deal with Arab states with which they do not have diplomatic relations. As I pointed out, it is completely contrary to diplomatic protocol and international norms for a country to veto who a regional organisation appoints to represent it in discussions, be it the Arab League, the EU or whoever.
Moreover, it is counter-productive for Israel to try to exclude the majority of Arab states from having any role in seeking a settlement. Saudi Arabia, for example, has been a key player in trying to rally Arab agreement to recognition of Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. Moreover, as I am well aware, through my work and travels right across the Arab world, Israel has a serious image problem in the Arab street. It’s not hard to see why, given the ongoing illegal settlements, the horrendous security wall, house demolitions and the daily humiliation of Palestinians at check-points.
Of course, the Palestinians have an image problem in Israel as well, because of rocket attacks and suicide bombings. But there is never going to be any chance of peace unless everyone concerned is prepared to sit down with all parties involved. A new ‘quintet’, adding the Arab League to the current quartet of the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, could be in a position to give the peace process new impetus, if all sides enter into it in good faith.