Israel Warms to Peace Initiative

Responding to a Saudi peace proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has invited all Arab heads of state to meet in Jerusalem for talks. Israel had rejected similar proposals, but Olmert now takes a different view, saying a multilateral meeting would be “worth the effort.”

Los Angeles Times:

Olmert made it clear Sunday that his reservations about the terms demanded of Israel had not softened. But his openness to a regional summit was unexpected, given Israel’s skepticism about the plan and its historical aversion to multilateral peace talks in which the Jewish state would be outnumbered.

“It is not essential that the things they will say and the things we will say will be identical at this stage,” Olmert said. “But the actual holding of such a meeting, where they could present all their ideas and we could present our ideas, is certainly something worth an effort.”

Israel rejected the Saudi plan when it was first proposed. Israeli leaders have said they are willing to give up land for peace and allow the creation of a neighboring Palestinian state but would never agree to a full return to the 1967 borders. They have rejected the return of refugees to what is now Israel, saying the new Palestinian state should be the refugees’ homeland.

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