Sunday, October 19, 2008

Barak: Israeli leaders seriously looking at Saudi peace plan

AP and mark weiss , THE JERUSALEM POST

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israeli leaders have been discussing a comprehensive Saudi peace plan and debating how to respond to it.

Barak told Army Radio on Sunday that with individual negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians making little headway, it may be time to pursue an overall peace deal for the region.

"There is room in the coalition of the Saudi plan," he said. "We have interests in common with moderate Arab elements on Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas." He added that President Shimon Peres was in agreement, and that he has spoken about the matter with Foreign Minister and Kadima chair Tzipi Livni as well.

The Saudi peace initiative was first proposed in 2002. It offers pan-Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel's withdrawal from Arab lands captured in 1967.

The plan offers Israel full recognition and peace, in return for complete withdrawal from the lands Israel captured in the Six Day War and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, and for the right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

Israel initially rejected the proposal. Last year, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised the plan as "showing a positive approach" and said it would be taken into account in the peace process. But he stopped short of accepting it and rejected its call on refugees. staff contributed to this report.
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