Tel Aviv endorses the ‘spirit’ of the Saudi peace project, Shimon Peres says after talks in Egypt.
It also lays out the concessions that Israel would have to make for Arab states to put the plan into force, including full withdrawal to the 1967 borders and respect for UN Security Council resolution on the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Abbas aide, said the campaign was meant to inform Israelis about the Arab peace, which until now has been “misinterpreted by the extreme Israeli right-wing as an Arab conspiracy against Israel and its future”.
But it was unclear if it was a success with many Israelis spoken to by Al Jazeera on Thursday. They said they did not trust the Palestinians and were suspicious of the Arab initiative.
“The initiative could be good but cannot trust the Palestinians”
“The initiative could be good but we cannot trust the Palestinians … they haven’t made peace within themselves so they certainly cannot make peace with us,” one Jerusalem resident said.
Another said that most people would not accept the initiative after previous peace deals.
“They are used to disappontments because they always involve painful compromises. We saw what happened when we gave up Gaza,” she said.
The advertisement, bordered by the flags of dozens of Arab and other Muslim states, also ran in Arabic in three Palestinian papers.
It received a mixed response in the Arabic press, with Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper criticising the move in an editorial.
“We doubt that the advertisements of the Palestinian Authority, which were paid for from the funds offered to the Palestinian people, will be able to get Israeli public opinion to support the Arab peace initiative, just as we doubt … that it will change the Israelis’ position toward the key issues.”
But Asharq Al-Awsat, another pan-Arab newspaper, took a more positive view.
“This is one of the rare times that the PA [Palestinian Authority] has done a political move that is constructive even if they had to pay for it,” it wrote.
“Addressing the Israeli public directly will … put pressure on Israeli politicians who have constantly refused the initiative and scared the public from it.”
In October, Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, told Hosni Mubarak, his Egyptian counterpart, that although he did not accept all of the plan it could form the basis for negotiations between the two sides.
Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only countries in the 22-member Arab League to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.