A Special report on activities around
the Arab Peace Initiative
With the beginning of 2007 Saudi Arabia accelerated the process of the preparation for the Arab League Summit that was held in 28-29/3/2007 in Riyadh. As part of that preparation process the Saudis declared in advance that the summit will activate the previous Beirut 2002 summit Arab Peace Initiative calling for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, full recognition and security guaranteed and normalization by all the 22 Arab countries with Israel, in case Israel will withdraw from the Arab territories occupied in 1967, and achieve an agreed upon solution to the refugee problem (see Annex 1: The text of the Arab Peace Initiative).
In other side the Saudis accelerated their efforts to solve the Lebanese internal crisis, and also they brought the Iraqis to a meeting in Saudi Arabia were they signed a national reconciliation document, and then the brought Fateh and Hamas together were they signed MECCA agreement between the two sides in February 2007, leading to the composition of a Palestinian Unity government in March 2007.
With these activities a new horizon was opened for peace in the Middle East taking in consideration the previous impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and also in the Israeli tracks with Syria and Lebanon.
Palestinian- Israeli activities: An overview
Upon that the peace organizations in both Israel and Palestine tried to create a momentum towards peace in the region and different groups began to act on that direction:
- Rabin Center move to send an Israeli delegation to the Arab League in order to give the Israeli response to that initiative: No success so far in that direction.
- A joint Israeli-Palestinian –Saudi- Jordanian- Egyptian group was established and met several times, and developed the idea of holding a regional consultation meeting of the two Quartets, (the International+ the Arab)+ Palestine+ Israel in order to consult on what to do on the vague and controversial issues included in the API.
- The Peace NGO’s Forum discussed the issue in 22nd to 25th February 2007 in Istanbul, and established a task force to prepare what they called “Jerusalem declaration” to be signed by 200 and declared in a press conference. The joint declaration was issued at 15/3/2007, but no signatures collected (see the declaration and the minutes of the meeting of the Palestinian side in the task force in Annex 2).
- The Israeli Regional Peace Movement (RPM) led by Sharon Dolev organized a conference in support to the API in 27/3/2007 (see Annex 3)
- IPCRI tried to promote the API through articles, emails communications, and also through holding STAT (Strategic Analysis and thinking Team) Nazarath meeting in 13+14/4 in order to discuss how to promote it. Tried to publish our joint statement (see later) in Al-Ahram newspaper in Egypt, then abstained because it cost 14000 dollars, and organized 2/5/2007 meeting were Sa’eb Eriekat and Meir Sheetrit were speakers.
- Peace Now organized a demonstration in Jerusalem in 28/3/2007 in support for API. In the demonstration all the 22 Arab flags were raised.
- “One Voice” organized a demonstration in Tel Aviv with Saudi flags.
- The Council of Peace and Security in Israel published a statement about the API.
- The Council for Peace Initiative in Israel is also releasing a statement very soon about it.
10) In the Middle: Search For Common Ground, took part of the coordination of several previous activities, and they are preparing for an international civil society meeting in order to plan how to promote a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
11) Geneva group organized with others a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan in 15/4/2007.
Bringing Peace Together activities (BPT)
Among these activities the significance of BPT work was as follows:
- The success of holding a joint meeting in 2/3 of peace activists in order to coordinate the activities
- The success to get a joint statement signed by 98 Israelis, and 73 Palestinians and published in the Ha’aretz. (see annex no.4).
- The success in sending the statement to 1500 Palestinians, and get 1300 responses to Dan Jacobson: In Israel 60% of support, and 40% of whom asked for clarifications on it.
- The success of getting the statement to 3000 people in the Middle East, and the world, and the preparation of a regional meeting in to be held in Cairo next June.
- Moreover the statement was sent to the following, contacts and websites:
- Sent to Akiva Eldar, Dani Rubinishten, and Roni Shakid with the request to publish news about it in the Israeli newspapers.
- Sent to Mossi Raz in order to broadcast it in the All for Peace Radio, and also to Sholomo Ganor, in order to broadcast news about it in the Israeli T.V in Arabic.
- Sent to the following websites, and contacts Safe Democracy website, Open Democracy website, Amin website, Bringing Peace Together website, Middle East Citizen Assembly website, Middle East Transparent website, CIPS (Center for International Public Studies Website), ATFP (American Task of Palestine website), Search for Common Ground website, PIJ (Palestine Israel Journal website), IPCRI website (Israeli- Palestinian Center for Research and Information), Peace Now website, IKV Pax Christi website, Prince Hassan of Jordon, MiddEast website, Toledo Pax, Palestinian Electronic Group website. Mary Kaldor, Konrad Adenauer in Israel and Palestine, Stanford Center for Conflict and Negotiations, USAID office, in Tel Aviv, The German Embassy in Tel Aviv, www.israel-palestina.info .
The statement published in the following newspapers and websites:
- Ha’aretz Newspaper.
- Safe Democracy Website.
- CIP’s (Center for International Public Studies website).
- IKV Website
- Bringing Peace Together Website
- Middle East Citizen Assembly Website.
- PIJ (Palestine Israel Journal) website
- IPCRI website (Israeli Palestinian Center for Research and Information)
- Peace Now website.
10) MidEast Website.
11) Toledo Pa website
- The Israeli partners in BPT participated in Peace Now demonstration of 28/3, and the PRM meeting in 27/3, also worked with the Council for Peace Initiative in their statement.
- The Palestinian partners succeeded holding two policy development meetings in 24/3 and 2/5.
- The Palestinian side initiated also a public education campaign on what “does it mean an agreed upon solution of the refugee problem?”. These meetings were held in Hebron in 12/4/2007, with 48 participants, second meeting was held in Ramallah in 14/4/2007 with 42 participants, and third meeting was held in Tulkarem in 15/4/2007 with 37 participants representatives of all the political factions.
- The two sides succeeded in linking with decision makers locally and regionally: The Israeli side was able to send a letter to the Saudi Royal Court, while the Palestinian side contacted Dr. Saeb Erakat the Head of PLO Negotiations Affairs Department, Dr. Ahmad Soboh the Deputy of the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Jamal Shoubaki the Palestinian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, the results of these meetings was the preparation of a Palestinian policy paper of 12 pages on the name of BPT to be discussed by the Ministry. The paper discuss three options: Israeli- Palestinian track, regional conference track, and international conference track and clarify the opportunities and the risks of each one, and suggest policies upon them. In its second part the paper include also suggestion on how to work with the Israeli public in order to promote to API in Israel.
10) 3 articles were written by Walid Salem on the issues and distributed to 3000 people each.
Lessons learned and ways ahead
The previous three months activities showed among other things the following lessons:
- That the work in both societies should be a combination of activities aiming to reach the main stream in both societies in one hand, and also activities to lobby with the decision makers in both societies in order to move them along in the direction of peace.
Those activities with the mainstream including direct education through seminars, meetings, debates, lectures, panels, symposiums, but also media ads, interviews, street posters, demonstrations and marches with placards… etc.
The activities with the decision makers to move them along, are of two directions:
One direction is aiming at meeting with the heads and symbols of the political parties in both societies, with the aim to contribute to the development of their plans in order to get to peace. And the second direction is with the governments and parliaments in both sides (PLO in the Palestinian side), in order to pressures them to move along.
These kinds of campaigns will need different tools. When it comes to the people what is needed is educational and media materials, but when it come to the policy makers, what we will need is a coherent policy paper with creative ideas that need to be prepared before or after the meetings with them.
- It is clear that there are different actors and groupings in the field trying to do something in order to promote a total Israeli- Palestinian peace, or a Middle Eastern comprehensive peace. In other hand it is very clear that the tasks are very huge and cannot be covered by BPT alone. Moreover it is clear that we cannot continue to work only with the usual suspects, which will not give us if continued the opportunity to reach the mainstreams in both societies. Upon that we need to bring the different players together in order to coordinate activities, and to see how we can get together to the mainstream especially in Israel, because the process of meetings in different Palestinian cities is already getting to all the factions including Hamas representatives who participated in Tulkarem, and Hebron, and who will join with the other upcoming activities.
The final remark in this regarding is financial, it was learned that huge campaign needs money while in BPT we have only a small amount of money. Also a campaign in Israel proved to be very expensive (Ads, placards, posters….. etc).
Therefore it is very essential for us to join others in order also to bring our sources together, also it is very important to create together a network that will go together to the Saudis and others ask for a budget that will enable us conduct a huge campaign.
- A third lesson is that we need to work with the government and the civil society regionally, asking them to send messages to the Israeli Civil Society about the significance of API to the Israeli security, and to the Israeli future status in M.E. Also the PA Ambassadors might play a role in this effort in addition to the Egyptian and Jordanian Embassies and representative offices in Tel Aviv, Gaza, and Ramallah.
- A fourth lesson is that we need to have an international component to support the API, by lobbying for instance for a UNSC resolution that include it, and for a Quartet move to implement it completely or partially in cooperation with the Arab Quartet, Israel Palestine and probably Turkey (with a special task in order to help work with Hamas for democratization and political moderation).
In this direction a coherent policy paper should be prepared and to be discussed with the EU, and the other Quartet members.
Planned Activities around API
First: Joint activities
Upon the lessons learned from the previous activities, the following joint activities are suggested tell the end of July 2007:
- To hold a joint meeting of all those work on the issue (Rabin Center, the Peace NGO’s Forum task force, Geneva Group, the Council for Peace Initiative, the Council for Peace and Security, RPM, Peace Now, IPCRI, Search for Common Ground, Yossi Alpher group, MECA, and One Voice) in order to join forces. Representatives of the Egyptain and Jordanian embassies in Tel Aviv, and their representative offices in the PA to be invited to these meetings.
- To hold a Middle East regional Civil Society meeting in order to prepare a plan for regional activities to promote API (see earlier).
- To hold an international civil society meeting in cooperation with Search For Common Ground.
- To hold joint activists meeting in order to coordinate the two campaigns in Israel and Palestine.
- To continue disseminating the joint statement to more peoples in both societies and internationally.
- Hold joint meetings with the high decision makers in Israel and Palestine: (including the heads of the big political parties in both sides).
- Hold T.V and Radio interview about API
- Form a joint special team in order to conduct the API activities, and also to the next June 40 years of occupation activities.
- Work on initiating a new UN Security Council Resolution that include API.
Second: In Palestine
- The educational campaign will continue in two tracks: one: Public education meetings in order to clarify the refugee issue in the API. Second: Meetings with the representatives of the political factions in order to clarify the API and to promote the factions work for API.
- Policy development meeting will be held in Gaza, and another one in cooperation with PSR (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)directed by Khalil Shikaki in the West Bank, and the proceedings will be sent to the decision makers.
- The work with the Ministry of foreign Affairs and with the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department (Saeb Erakat) will continue aiming to develop joint activism strategy of peace for the Ministry of PLO, and BPT.
- Coordinate activities with the Think Tank in Gaza coordinated by Jamal Zakout.
- Continue working on the Moderation of Hamas position through Ankara (April 2007) alike meeting.
Third: In Israel
- Additional ads will be initiated.
- A meeting of a selected group of 1300 people responded to Dan Jacobson will be held and initiate plans in Israel. A provisional coordinator will be selected in order to help organize the meeting, and then coordinate the implementation of the agreed upon activities.
The activities to be done might include lectures and symposiums in the universities, streets placards, and etc.
The focus of the campaign in Israel will be to show the Israelis the significance of API to the recognition, security and normalization with Israel.
- Organize advocacy group with the government, in cooperation with different peace groups in Israel.
- Hold meetings with the main political symbols in Israel.
Fourth: Other activities to be initiated upon Article no.7 of API:
Upon the article No.7 of the API stating “Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union”. The following other activities might be done between May to July 2007.
- Palestinians to speak in different Israeli cities about API.
- Write and publish 12 articles on how to promote the Arab Peace Initiative (API), and publish them in local newspapers (Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam), and Arab newspapers (Al-Hayat, Asshark Al-Awsat, Daily Star among others)
- Write three good articles for Israeli Newspapers as letters to the Israeli public opinion Ha’aretz, Ma’ariv, and Yodi’ot Ahronot.
- Publish a brochure of the joint statement in three languages with all the signatures.
- Open an electronic discussion about API (probably through the Electronic Palestinian website and ask Hazem Qawasmi to coordinate it).
- Ask Arabic high Caliber personalities to write articles in the Israeli newspapers in order to address the Israeli public opinion about the significance of the Peace Initiative (for instance: Prince Hassan, Adnan Khashuqji among others).
- Ask the Arab Civil Society organizations from different Arab countries to send massages to the Israeli civil society organizations about the initiative.
- Organize through the Palestinian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Jamal Shoubaki) meetings with the Saudi Royal Court and with the Arab Quartet in order to coordinate activities. Also with the Egyptian and Jordanian Governments and Ambassadors in Tel Aviv and with the PA, and with the Arab League and the organization of Islamic countries.
Additional international activities
- Coordinate with EU Organizations to promote the API in the European Union and different EU countries.
- Organize a Civil Society group in order to meet with the congressmen and the American Administration in order to discuss how to promote API.
- Use the good offices of Russia, Turkey, and Norway in order to get Hamas involved in the peace process.
- Meet the UN officials in order to push the role of the UN in promoting the initiative.
- Link the campaign on API with June 40 years of occupation campaign.
The Arab Peace Initiative
The Council of Arab States at the Summit Level at its 14th Ordinary Session, reaffirming the resolution taken in June 1996 at the Cairo Extra-Ordinary Arab Summit that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East is the strategic option of the Arab countries, to be achieved in accordance with international legality, and which would require a comparable commitment on the part of the Israeli government.
Having listened to the statement made by his royal highness Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in which his highness presented his initiative calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and Israel's acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel.
Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.
Task force on the Arab Peace Initiative
Meeting of the Palestinian Side 6/3/2007
Place: Panorama//Ramallah office
- Jamal Zakkout.
- Riad Malki
- Fathi Darwish.
- Saman Khoury.
- Nidal Foquha.
- Nancy Sadiq
- Walid Salem
- Have Jerusalem joint Declaration/ Rabin Center as possible partner* + Collect signatures followed by a Press conference.
- Hold a conference of 200: 100 from each side.
- The Signatures to be collected should be: 50 parliamentarians and previous parliamentarians from both sides (including PNC members from the Palestinian side) + Other high caliber personalities.
- The declaration should be short, and in three languages: English, Arabic, and Hebrew.
In Support of Arab Peace Initiative
With the utmost attention to the interest of the vast majority of both the Palestinian and Israeli people who are willing to achieve a just peace based on a two-state solution, the end of occupation, and the end of the prolonged conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands on both sides, the signatories of this declaration state that the Arab Peace Initiative, presented in Beirut at the Arab Summit in 2002, serves as an historic opportunity to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and consequently the Arab-Israeli conflict. We the undersigned agree on the following principles:
1- As a package, the Arab Peace Initiative, approved in Beirut in 2002, serves as a base upon which to reach desired solutions – based on political negotiations between the different parties on an equal basis.
2- These solutions must eventually lead to the end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories since 1967. Moreover, these resolutions should be based on a two-state solution, bringing security to all, and should lead to a resolution of the conflict's core issues, including the refugee cause as stated in the Initiative.
The undersigned expect that both the Palestinian and the Israeli leadership will act upon the Arab Peace Initiative to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including mobilizing political support and positive interactions to achieve these desired goals.
We, the undersigned, hope that this Declaration will serve to support the Arab Peace Initiative at the coming Arab Summit, held in Riyadh on 28th March 2007. We call upon the Quartet to convene a Peace Summit supported by the Arab League, on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, with the aim of initiating concrete Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in regard to the final status issues so that a political solution based on two states may be achieved.
The pre- Riyadh Conference in support of the Arab League Initiative
March 27, 7 PM
Vital Hotel, Tel Aviv
Time Table and speakers
18:40 – 19:10 Gathering and refreshments
A representative of the Jordanian embassy
Ms. Sharon Dolev – chairperson of The Israeli Regional Peace Movement.
Prof. Galia Golan – Peace Now – and author of a publication on peace initiatives including the Arab League Initiative.
Mr. Walid Salem - Panorama center.
Mr. Mossi Raz – former member of Knesset and the Director of the Palestinian – Israeli Radio 'All for Peace'.
Prof. Elie podeh - Head of the department of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, The Hebrew University.
20:30 Closing address and blessings from Ms. Shulamit Aloni, former minister and the founder of Raz party and Meretz party.
The guests and the members of the media will receive a folder explaining the Arab League Initiative and the goals of RPM.
Annex no. 4
Israeli- Palestinian Joint Statement
On the 28th of this month, the Arab League Summit will be held in Riyadh/ Saudi Arabia. One of the questions that are facing the summit will be: What to do in order to promote the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Arab Summit of Beirut 2002? (Attached).
The significance of the Arab Peace Initiative is that it provides all interested and concerned parties with a comprehensive solution process in order to solve all the aspects of the Middle East conflict. For Israel it’s significance is that it provides Israel with recognition, normalization and security guaranteed by 22 Arab countries together provided it withdraws from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and provided it adheres to “an agreed upon just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem that is achieved in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194”. For the Palestinians it means the establishment of a Palestinian independent state based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. For the Syrians it means the return of the Golan Heights.
With the impasse in the peace process, and with the failure of the gradual solutions in the last 15 years, the Arab Peace Initiative provides the alternative way-out towards comprehensive peace and reconciliation.
We, the undersigned, call upon you to immediately act in cooperation with the civil society organizations in your country and with your network in order to:
- Urge all Middle Eastern governments and in particular the Palestinian and the Israeli ones to join the Arab Peace Initiative in order to open the door for a comprehensive peace process, and to a final solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
- Urge Israeli and Palestinian civil societies to mobilize Israeli and Palestinian public opinions in support of this process and its declared objectives
- Call your government to act in that direction.
Please also develop any other activities that you feel necessary through statements, joint statements, meetings with the decision makers, or any other type of activities.
In order to inform the others about what we are doing in this regard, please send us the information to
, or Izhak:
Good Luck and Best Regards
Walid Salem, Izhak Schnell, Saman Khoury, Dan Jacobson
Bringing Peace Together Project
* Ron Ponduk: Peres Center cannot be the official partner because Shimon Peres will not support openly the Arab Peace Initiative.