Israel should not expect any dilution of the plan, says Saudi Arabia
DUBAI: Buoyed by its role in the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, Saudi Arabia is set to gain the support of Arab countries on a West Asia peace plan that it first unveiled four years ago.
The participants at the Arab League summit in Riyadh, which began on Wednesday, are set to approve the plan, which calls for normalisation of ties with Israel, if it vacates all the Palestinian territories that it occupied during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The plan envisages the emergence of a Palestinian state on this territory and calls for the return of Palestinian refugees. There has been considerable discussion within the region and beyond about the plan ahead of the summit.
Israel has said the proposal is a good starting point for detailed talks. It is also demanding the release of a soldier captured by Gaza militants nine months ago. Addressing the Israeli position, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal has said Israel should not expect any dilution of the plan. "What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done," Prince Saud told a British newspaper. "If Israel refuses [the plan], that means it doesn't want peace and it places everything back in the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war," he added.
Earlier U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, called upon Arab states to "begin reaching out to Israel" by building on the Saudi plan, first adopted at the Beirut Arab summit in 2002.
On Tuesday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia held talks with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
On Iraq, the two-day summit is expected to call for amendments to the Iraqi constitution, so that Sunnis can have a greater say in governance. attending the opening session included United Nations Secretary -General, Ban Ki-moon, and European Union foreign policy head Javier Solana. Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed is leading a delegation to the summit, where India has been accorded observer status.