Is Arab League Peace Shift ‘Big Step Forward’ or Tempest in a Mideast Teapot?

Kerry Backs Plan, But Neither Israel Nor the Palestinians Are Sure

Breakthough? Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Arab League leaders in Washington.
Getty Images
Breakthough? Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Arab League leaders in Washington.

By Nathan Guttman

Published May 11, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

But two days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointedly rejected Kerry’s suggestion that this represented progress at all, much less a “breakthrough.”

“The root of the conflict isn’t territorial,” he told Israeli diplomats when asked about the development. “The Palestinians’ failure to accept the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict.”

Netanyahu did dispatch Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose portfolio includes responsibility for the peace process, to Washington. Livni praised the progress made, but she also stressed Israel’s reservations, focusing on other, more difficult elements of the Arab League plan, such as its proposals regarding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their now long-lost homes in Israel.

Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu’s special adviser, accompanied Livni to her meeting with Kerry. According to Israeli political analysts, the hawkish Molcho came as Livni’s minder.

After meeting with Kerry on May 8, Livni called the new Arab League position “good news.”

“Peace with the Palestinians means also peace with the Arab world,” Livni said to Kerry. “So I wish to congratulate you on this successful meeting.”

On the Palestinian side, renewed interest in the Arab Peace Initiative also received a cool response.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, while initially praising revival of the plan, said in a May 5 interview to the radio station Voice of Palestine that land swaps can be discussed only after Palestinians receive their sovereignty.

“The Arab League Initiative,” he added, “was approved at the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, and any amendment to it requires another Arab summit.” Erekat said it is “impossible” for “one foreign minister” to “come and amend the plan” without the consent of all members.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • J.J. Goldberg doesn't usually respond to his critics. But this time, he just had to make an exception.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.