Time to mull alternatives: Moussa
Sun, 28 March 2010
SIRTE, Libya — Arab states should prepare for the possibility that the Palestinian-Israeli peace process may be a total failure and come up with alternatives, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said yesterday. His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, is attending on behalf of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
On the sidelines of the summit, His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, met with Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, Emir of Qatar. They discussed the agenda of the summit and efforts made to achieve the aspirations of the Arab people, as well as aspects of co-operation between GCC.
Moussa did not say what the alternatives to the peace process might be, but one option is to revive an eight-year-old initiative under which Arab states would normalise ties with Israel in exchange for Israeli concessions on territory. Others are for the Palestinians unilaterally to declare a state, or to propose a single binational state for Israelis and Palestinians.
Speaking to leaders at an Arab League summit in the Libyan town of Sirte, Moussa said a fresh approach was needed. "We have to study the possibility that the peace process will be a complete failure," Moussa said. "It's time to face Israel. We have to have alternative plans because the situation has reached a turning point. "The peace process has entered a new stage, perhaps the last stage. We have accepted the efforts of mediators. We have accepted an open-ended peace process."
"But that resulted in a loss of time and we did not achieve anything and allowed Israel to practise its policy for 20 years," he said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said on the sidelines of the summit that he had urged Arab leaders to support proximity talks, despite setbacks on the ground. "There is no alternative to negotiations on a two-state solution. Without that, we risk sliding into despair and the potential for more violence of the kind we have witnessed recently," he told reporters.
The alternative to the stalled peace process that is favoured by many states in the region is the Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed by Saudi Arabia at an Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002. The Arab League chief also said the 22-member organisation should start talking to Tehran to address concerns about its nuclear programme. "I know there is a worry among Arabs regarding Iran but this situation confirms the necessity of a dialogue with Iran," Moussa said in his speech.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in a message to the summit, said he still supported diplomacy to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme but did not rule out sanctions. The use of sanctions is not ideal but cannot be excluded, he said. Any sanctions that are imposed should be "well calculated and not aimed at the civilian population of Iran," he added. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was a guest at the summit and accepted an offer to form a new regional grouping of Turkey and the Arab League. — Reuters
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