Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abuelgheit, called Sunday for broader publicity of the Arab peace initiative, which the Arab states re-endorsed in March.
The peace proposal, first drafted in 2002, calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories which Israel occupied in 1967, and a fair solution to the refugee problem in exchange for normal relations between 23 Arab states and the Israeli state.
In a letter he sent to his Arab counterparts and the Arab league’s chief Amr Moussa, Abuelgheit stated that such a peace initiative should be publicized to major capitals in the world including those of the Quartet’s members (United States, United Nations, European Union, Russia).
The Egyptian minister confirmed that the Arab quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan) will meet in May with the international Quartet for promoting peace in the Middle East, to discuss the initiative.
Abuelgheit dismissed potential amendment of the Arab peace proposal. Israel has already refused the Arab offer, calling it 'incompatible with current developments', particularly regarding the problem of Palestinian refugees. Israel sought amendment of the initiative or a cancellation of the clause that entitles Palestinians to the right of return to Palestine. It announced that peace is not possible in the short term.
In 1948, Israel occupied historical Palestine, displacing hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians to neighboring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt as well as to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the Egyptian peninsula of Sinai, parts of Lebanon and the Jordanian Valley. In 1979, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt, in 1993 it signed the Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization-agreeing to a limited autonomy in the Palestinian territories- while in 1994 it signed a peace treaty with Jordan.
According to the United Nations Agency for Work and Relief of Palestine Refugees, there are 4.2 million refugees. The Palestinian refugee problem is considered one of the most contentious issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and is the largets and longest running known refugee issue.