Israel hears Arab peace proposal

1173.jpgThe foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan are in Israel to present the Arab League’s Middle East peace plan. The two ministers are meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli officials.

They are trying to push forward an Arab peace plan that Israel has in the past treated coolly but which correspondents say it may now be willing to discuss.

New Middle East envoy Tony Blair said after visiting the West Bank he saw a “moment of opportunity” for peace.

‘Common ground’

Egypt’s Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Jordan’s Abdel Ilah al-Khatib are presenting a long-standing Arab League initiative that was readopted at a meeting in Saudi Arabia recently.

The initiative offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, the creation of a Palestinian state and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Israel dismissed the proposal on its launch in 2002, but has recently suggested it could be the basis for negotiations.

Mr Gheit said: “We hope that upon our return, we would also convey to the Arab League the responses of Israel, and I hope that the responses will be positive.”

Mr Khatib said: “We are extending a hand of peace on behalf of the whole region to you.”

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