Ynetnews reports that Ehud Olmert met with a high-ranking Saudi official, possibly King Abdullah himself, regarding a new peace initiative promoted by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to be discussed at an upcoming UN meeting on the conflict:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert secretly met about 10 days ago with a senior member of the Saudi royal family, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Monday morning.
According to several sources, the person Olmert met with was Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah himself. Other sources implied that the meeting was held with a different senior figure in the kingdom.
…The secret meeting…was welcomed by senior American officials.
This appears to be the first time an Israeli prime minister holds a direct meeting with such a senior member of the Saudi royal family.
Saudi Arabia is responsible for a peace initiative, according to which Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders and in exchange will gain peace agreements and normalization with all Arab state.
It is also part of a new peace initiative being promoted both by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The plan’s details are expected to be presented during discussions at the United Nations headquarters in New York. As part of the new initiative, the borders of the Palestinian state will be determined first, after which diplomatic talks will be held.
It seems almost foolhardy to speculate on whether or how this might turn out to be a constructive move since so many previous promising initiatives have gone up in smoke over the years. This is but one in a long line. But the fact that Israel’s prime minister possibly met with the Saudi monarch is not only historic as the article points out, but bodes well for prospects for peace. It also bodes well for U.S. engagement in the Mideast peace process since it appears that the U.S. may have not only welcomed the move but perhaps even nudged Olmert to do it.
The outcome of the Lebanon war appears to have possibly lit at least a small fire under both Olmert and Condi Rice and made them more open to peace initiatives. I wonder whether Olmert sees his political career in jeopardy in Lebanon’s aftermath and is reaching out for a radical breakthrough to save his skin. If this is so, it would be a wise move on his part if he can carry Israel’s political mainstream with him. But I am hesitant to believe Olmert is capable of bold thinking and action on this score given my previous deep disappointments in Olmert’s “leadership” or lack thereof.
I’ve also read that the Europeans, including Tony Blair have told Bush that this is a top priority for them and that if the U.S. doesn’t engage, then the EU will pursue its own separate policy to promote Mideast peace which won’t necessarily gibe with U.S. goals or initiatives. This would leave George strumming his Texas guitar all by his lonesome out there on the international range. There also seems to be a dawning realization that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will make it that much easier to resolve the Iraq occupation by removing a major accelerant in that combustible mix. It also would have a potentially beneficial impact on U.S.-Iran relations unless of course we decide to bomb them back to the Stone Age too as Richard Armitage threatened Pervez Musharaf just after 9/11.
Given Bashir Assad’s promising interview in Der Spiegel and this should we dare to be hopeful about prospects for peace? And we should move the minute hand on the Mideast Doomsday clock a few minutes farther away from midnight.
Richard, thanks for stopping by my site. I am always interesting in ‘new’ (ie.new to me) blogs because I like to hear/read other people’s opinions, whether they reflect mine or not. As long as dialogue is possible, it’s good. I am with you re. this article. This administration is out to have Israel do its bidding (in my opinion, or you can also say, that’s what I suspect) re. Iran and I blame them for the prolonging of the summer conflict. Even as a politically independent, I say, we need another ‘Clinton’. Someone who has the interest of others close to his heart, and not their own agenda, which the Bushies do. I lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years. The fact that the king himself would meet with Olmert is definitely good news. I also don’t believe that any Arab nation wants to see Israel removed from the face of the earth. They want issues to be addressed. During times of conflict, any side will use rhetoric or propaganda to further their own agenda and to keep or gain support with their particular base. It takes a lot of reading and ‘listening’ to differentiate ‘talk’ with ‘real intentions’. But that’s politics for you. Personally, I love it, and hate it at the same time. Btw.. I like the look of your site. It’s nice and ‘open’.
John Yorke says
‘should we dare to be hopeful about prospects for peace? And we should move the minute hand on the Mideast Doomsday clock a few minutes farther away from midnight.’
Yes, this particular clock does have an unfortunate tendency to go in only one direction. Persuading it to reverse, to move the other way, requires leverage of the highest order. Also the application of some constant pressure is needed to maintain that leverage and thus that reversal. It is generally here that things start to unravel, to fall apart. Maybe that’s because our human nature is not too well adapted for the long haul, having lost its way so many times in the past. The turbulence in the region makes any kind of overall control there very much a hit and miss affair.
What if we could incorporate into the mechanism some kind of auto-pilot, a device capable of coping with whatever the situation throws at it while still holding true to its course? ‘Doomsday’ , after all, is sometning best left for another time, another place. .
Extracted from Place4Peace.com discussion portal:
Can it really be beyond the compass of the human mind to at least regulate this constant cycle of carnage in the Middle East? Maybe it is – but here’s a suggestion for closure where the expenditure involved would seem to comprise mainly that of a few brain cells, a commodity we all have in plentiful supply.
This is a dry, almost antiseptic solution, perhaps a bit ‘clinical’ in its approach to the conflict. It’s a formula-driven method which, somewhat perversely, derives an unexpected synergy from the very problem it seeks to address. Worked out by a German I met many years ago in Nurnburg. Very Germanic therefore, very direct – and, in its own fashion, arguably much more effective than many peace proposals floated in the past – and which have now long since sunk without trace.
Monitor events in the region, sample and evaluate any incidents involving violence and/or intolerance, even the quite minor ones. Place on record that which occurs and make a determination/estimation as to whether this side or that is deemed responsible. For instance, something happens; it was violent; it seemed deliberate; people were hurt; property was damaged – so on and so forth. This was judged at the time to be Israeli in origin – or it was Palestinian inspired. Can include a default option too – ‘perpetrated by person or persons unknown’ – if circumstances so dictate. Collate all this information and await the next sequence of bombs, bullets, whatever, that happens along. Do likewise with these and continue monitoring.
At some stage – a time limit, a points cut-off – the sampling process terminates and one of the entries thus catalogued is then randomly selected. Penalise the offending party here by conferring full ownership and title of some nominal area of land on its opposite number. One square kilometre should more than suffice, the transfer of which is formally refinished by the rest of the world – also acting as guarantor – even if only in the moral and legal sense. One of the much maligned UN resolutions perhaps?
The sampling process then re-engages and, assuming the violence continues unabated, a further parcel of land is thereby delineated and assigned to whoever. The area this covers would then be some 2 sq.km. Subsequent infractions might trigger another penalty; 4 sq.km. After that, it’s 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 sq.km. …….XXXX sq.km. A natural progression; soon ramps up to some very serious real estate indeed.
The dynamic of the whole situation now changes markedly. Israelis, through violence and the like, would be seen to be promoting, even ratifying, the Palestinian cause while, similarly, Palestinians might well be perceived as carrying forward and cementing the dream of a permanent Jewish homeland. Prospects guaranteed to give even the most militant in either camp considerable pause for thought. ‘He brought home the other sides’ bacon for them’ – quite possibly the least coveted obituary of ‘martyr’, soldier and politician alike. Very salutary, though, if a permanent end to these hostilities is ever going to emerge from the present fog of contention.
Now, back there in Nurnburg, I felt that, as a theory, the concept had some small merit but little practical value. And I said as much to my German companion, detailing what I felt to be major obstacles in its path.
1. Too biased. The Israelis might go for it – the novelty alone makes it an idea worth exploring. Not so the Palestinians – and with some justification. Yes, this might lock down the violence – and appreciably so – but to what end? To preserve the status quo? To stifle any movement towards change or progress? Not entirely a welcome outcome where Palestinian interests are concerned.
The answer, apparently, is to acknowledge the objection and offer to take the system ‘off-line’ for one or two months. In that time slot, the whole question might readily be referred back to the field of battle – if calmer counsels have not prevailed in the interval.
2. Too easily sabotaged. Disaffected elements in both groups could easily overload the process, manufacturing spurious claims and stage-managing acts of violence. A futile endeavour therefore and not worth the effort.
Any halfway decent sampling technique should be more than adequate to discourage such activities. Those seeking to choreograph events could find their efforts ineffective, or worse still, counterproductive.
3. Wouldn’t it be imperative to obtain at least tacit approval from both principals in this matter? Given the long-standing enmity between them — and their even longer memories — acceptance of so radical a departure from familiar norms and customs of warfare seems doubtful in the extreme.
Curiously enough, agreement on the issue need not be a mandatory requirement here. In fact both parties could initially ignore the whole procedure and continue on much as before. However, there comes a time when the areas of land so designated must reach something of a critical mass. At such a point, one side or the other might very well decide to go with what’s on offer. Holding such clear and universal title to any major tract of this much disputed territory might prove progressively more and more difficult to resist. Thereafter, further violence becomes increasingly untenable. Fighting against a conventional enemy is all very well – but when that enemy is also a mathematical construct, the numbers themselves soon begin to outweigh all other considerations.
4. But who could – or should – debate, decide, pronounce on changes of such magnitude? Who would accept the awesome responsibility entailed in decisions of this significance?
We are all, it seems, as ever, still our brother’s keeper. It must fall to us, the world community – or representatives thereof – to perform the deed. And, with such godlike powers theirs to command, the expectation is that there would be no great shortage of volunteers.
Now whether all this has any relevance as to our view of the Middle East today is, of course, debatable. But it would be well to note that, in our various dealings with the Angel of Death, any increase in our choices here must certainly be welcome. A template capable of ending once and for all, not just this business, but also others of an equally intractable nature, would go a long way towards making some sense out of all that’s happened – even if only as an intellectual exercise.
And if, for some reason, it didn’t work out, some unforeseen flaw in the design perhaps, well then, we could at least comfort ourselves with the knowledge that, in the final analysis, …… we can always blame the Germans!