Israel rejects Arab peace initiative

Israel has rejected outright a call from Arab leaders to end its occupation of Arab land.

    The meeting sidestepped some glaring recent issues

    An official in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on condition of anonymity: "Unfortunately, the Arab League prefers to give this illusion of unity on the surface by adopting resolutions that contradict with all of the advances made, particularly by Egypt and Jordan, which is unacceptable."


    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Leon Ben Zour told Aljazeera that any peace initiative must decree Palestinian refugees to be settled in a future Palestinian state and not Israel.


    "With respect to the 1967 borders we say that UN resolutions 242 and 338 should be cited as the base for negotiations and that borders should be agreed upon between the two sides, not dictated by the initiative," he added.


    Arab initiative

    At an Arab League meeting in Algiers on Tuesday, foreign ministers made the plea in a communique which will be sent to heads of state for approval.

    League chief Amr Musa said
    Israel must make concessions

    The communique urged Israel to totally withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and territories in south Lebanon.

    It also called for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, and for a fair solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.

    If Israel were to agree to these conditions, "Arab countries would therefore consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over and will set up normal ties with Israel within the framework of a comprehensive peace", the communique said.

    The foreign ministers also made pronouncements on several other issues affecting the Arab world.

    Sidestepping issues

    On Iraq, they reaffirmed respect for the country's unity, sovereignty and independence. They also welcomed the recent elections and considered them "a great accomplishment for the Iraqi people on the road to a peaceful and democratic shift of power". 

    The League welcomed Iraqi polls
    but did not address violence

    The ministers supported peace, development and unity in Sudan, but expressed concern over the situation in Darfur and called for emergency humanitarian aid.

    And they pledged to make the Middle East exempt of weapons of mass destruction, but considered as dangerous Israel's refusal to let the International Atomic Energy Agency inspect its installations.

    Only 13 heads of state from the league's 22 members attended the summit. Others stayed away either for health reasons or because of personal disputes with other members, sending lower-level officials in their place.

    The summit sidestepped glaring issues that have shaken the Arab world in recent months - increased pressure for democratic reform, new optimism in the peace process,
    the conflicts in Sudan, huge demonstrations in Lebanon and the withdrawal of Syrian troops.



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