"Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past."
This portion of President Obama's Cairo speech came toward the end of the section on the Arab-Israel conflict. I have searched in vain for any mention of this quote in mainstream media and even on the blogosphere. Nothing. Nowhere. Not even a mention.
Perhaps the reason is that it was a misstatement. It is not the Arab States that must recognize that the API was an important beginning, but rather the U.S., Israel and the rest of the world that should have recognized it as a comprehensive, just, balanced and complete offer that would bring peace to the Middle East and end this specific conflict. Obama did not spell out what the offer would proivide. Instead he moved on to a total non sequitur about the Arab nations using this conflict to distract their people from other problems. No sir, they were offering a truly remarkable solution to this conflict, one that would end it, not distract anyone.
Full page ads in the NY Times and the WashPost last week informed people what it was all about, including that it was first offered in 2002, that it has repeatedly been endorsed by all 22 members of the Arab League (including the Palestinians), and by 57 majority Muslim countries around the world. The ad was paid for by the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO. Further information is available on the Organization of the Islamic Conference (http://www.oic.org).
The plan does not call for any concessions by Israel. It does call for their ending the occupation and withdrawing from the territories they have annexed, occupied, terrorized, and in which they have implanted illegal settlements. This is not a concession. It is obeying international law, numerous relevant UNSC Resolutions, the laws of war, the Geneva Conventions, and elementary human decency. Obeying the law is not a concession in international relations. The Palestinians have already made a huge concession, in claiming for their state only the 22 percent of Mandate Palestine that had been left to them by the start of the 1967 war. This was much less than the somewhat under 50 percent that had been allotted to them by the original UN Partition Plan.
This was the key provision of the API: that Israel withdraw to the 1967 boundaries. The Palestinian refugee problem would be settled by an agreement to be negotiated by the parties. In return Israel would be recognized de jure by all Arab states, normal relations would be established, peace treaties signed, and a final end to the conflict established. This is the way to confirm and entrench short and long term security for the State of Israel.
What are we waiting for? For Obama to get on board this concrete plan, with no more eloquent observations needed.