Arab League to visit Israel

Delegation's visit would be the first ever, aimed at discussing Arab peace initiative.

    Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib, Jordan's foreign minister, will visit Israel with his Egyptian counterpart [AP]

    Peace proposal

     

    Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said the foreign ministers would lead an Arab League mission to Israel to discuss the Arab peace plan, which would trade full Arab recognition of Israel for an Israeli withdrawal from all lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war and the creation of a Palestinian state.

     

    "They will be talking about how the Arab peace proposal can help energise the rapprochement between Israel and the Palestinians," Regev said.

     

    "This is the first time the Arab League is coming to Israel.

     

    "From its inception the Arab League has been hostile to Israel. It will be the first time we'll be flying the Arab League flag."

     

    Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, said on Sunday: "The upcoming visit of Egypt's and Jordan's foreign ministers to Israel upon the request of the Arab committee of peace initiative is to conduct necessary contacts with Israel."

     

    The two foreign ministers, whose countries have peace agreements with Israel, have been designated as the League's official point men for the Arab peace initiative.

     

    In another gesture of support for the Palestinian president, Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, met Salam Fayyad, the new Palestinian prime minister, in Jerusalem on Sunday.

     

    Palestinian killed

     

    Meanwhile, in the West Bank late on Sunday, Israeli forces ambushed and killed a Palestinian fighter in the town of Jenin, Palestinian security and hospital officials said.

     

    Islamic Jihad said Mohammed Nazal, 24, was one of its leaders.

     

    Israel rejected the Arab plan outright when Saudi Arabia first proposed it in 2002, at the height of the Palestinian uprising. But it softened its resistance after some Arab states endorsed the plan again in March, sharing their concerns about Iran's growing influence.

     

    Israeli officials have said they welcomed aspects of the plan, but reject its call for a return of all of the West Bank and an implied demand to resettle Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war that followed Israel's creation, and their descendants, in Israel.

     

    Arab countries and the West have been pushing for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking since Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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