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Arab League Summit Gives Unanimous Approval To Saudi Peace Plan

The 2002 Saudi peace initiative – in its present form, which includes later additions – has been unanimously approved by members of the Arab League, meeting in Riyadh. One abstention came from Isma’il Haniyya, the Hamas leader who serves as prime minister in the Palestinian government. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas voted in favor. In his remarks to the assemblage, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal threatened that, "If Israel refuses [to accept the plan], that means it doesn’t want peace. Then [the conflict] goes back into the hands of the lords of war." But European Union foreign affairs envoy Javier Solana urged the league not to see the plan as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, but rather to "get the negotiations started. In any negotiations there are changes in positions, because negotiations are like that." After the plan was initially unveiled in 2002, the issue of a Palestinian "right of return" was added. Recently, Israeli leaders have called on the Arab world to drop that provision, seen as a deal-breaker by the Israelis, so that progress can be made in negotiations based upon the plan. The idea was rejected by Arab leaders.