Arabs dream up their own 'peace' agenda

First, the dream. If you believe what Amr Moussa told us yesterday, the "peace process" is still a rosy option for the Arab world. The foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo, he said, was smooth, positive, a joint effort for "a just and lasting peace". There was no end to the amount of obligations, rights and legitimacy that would be invoked, no limit to the promises that today's summit would go to to avoid "a message of threats and warnings".

Only when the Egyptian Foreign Minister - Cairo's top spin-doctor - insisted that he alone would brief journalists after each session of the Arab potentates did it become clear that Egypt intended to keep the lid on suspicion and mutual animosity. On the 25th floor of the Egyptian foreign ministry yesterday, you might almost have believed Shimon Peres was still prime minister of Israel.

Now, the reality. A five-page draft communique for the Arab summit - which Mr Moussa would not reveal to us yesterday - calls for a "just and lasting peace" in the Middle East based on land for peace, the very formula Mr Netanyahu has already rejected. Delegates will be asked to condemn "terrorism" but to differentiate this from "legitimate resistance" (i.e. Hizbollah's war against Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon). There will be no condemnation of Iran but there will be support for Bahrain against any "foreign interference" - unspecified - in its internal affairs.

Iran will be asked only to abide by the decision of international mediation in its territorial dispute with the Emirates. Arab leaders will express "deep concern" about Turkey's new relationship with Israel. And, almost at the end of the unpublished communique - again unrevealed by Mr Moussa - comes the assertion that Mr Netanyahu's post-election policy platform is "very upsetting and very threatening to the peace process".

Both Mr Moussa's platitudes and the actual communique reflect the dangerous world in which the Arabs - as well as the Israelis - now find themselves in the aftermath of the Netanyahu victory. As the nation which wishes to remain the United States' best Arab friend - and wishes to continue to receive Washington's annual $2.1bn (pounds 1.3bn) of aid - Egypt has to put a brave face on the death of the "peace process". Any hostile words about Israel, and the US Senator Alfonse D'Amato and his friends might pull the plug on the cash flow. The Arabs don't want to be blamed for the collapse of the American-Israeli "peace".

The communique embodies equally deceptive words. The "just and lasting peace" must continue to be based on UN resolutions 242, 338 and 425, which were the basis of the US- organised 1991 Madrid peace conference and which call for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land in return for peace. This was the American deal, and it is this which the new Israeli government now intends to set aside. Syria wished to call for a halt to "normalisation" between Arab states, and it was King Hussein - America's new favourite Arab leader, who is normalising all Jordan's relations with Israel - who threatened to denounce "terrorism" in general and, reportedly, the Syrian- sponsored variety. Thus the call for no further normalisation was dropped in return for the distinction between the murder of civilians and attacks on occupation troops by Syria's Hizbollah allies. Syria's Iranian ally was protected from condemnation by Bahrain but the Emirates were supported in their dispute with Iran over offshore islands by the call for international arbitration.

The "deep concern" over Turkey's new military alliance with Israel was generally accepted because - although Syria is threatened by Israeli F-16s flying in Turkish airspace - all the Arab Mediterranean nations, including Egypt, have been angered by the pact. "We wish to have the best of relations with a sisterly country like Turkey," Mr Moussa said yesterday, without mentioning the distinctly critical clause in the communique. But at the very end of his press conference in the morning, the Egyptian Foreign Minister did level with us.

There were undertakings and principles and signed documents between the Arabs and Israelis which must be respected, he said. The enlargement of settlements on occupied Palestinian land would be "not only an obstacle to peace but also an illegal act". As for the future of Jerusalem, the return of refugees, Jewish settlements and Israeli withdrawal from Arab land, these were the most important issues for Arabs. They are also the very issues Mr Netanyahu has said he will not discuss in his "no-precondition" talks with Arab leaders. And still Amr Moussa believes the "peace process" is alive.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?