Israeli FM assails Arab peace initiative

April 23, 2009 11:09 am 

JERUSALEM, April 22 — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has lashed out at an Israeli-Arab peace plan that has gained ground both in the United States and in the Jewish state, local daily The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

The Saudi Arabia-proposed Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normal ties with the Arab world if the Jewish state withdraws from Arab land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war, "is a dangerous plan, a recipe for Israel's destruction," Lieberman was quoted as saying on Tuesday night.

The Israeli new top diplomat reportedly told a Foreign Ministry meeting that the most problematic part of the plan is that it calls for a right of return for the descendants of Palestinian refugees.

Lieberman's stance on the refugees issue reflected that of many other Israeli officials, who claim that the return of Palestinian refugees would threaten Israel's nature as a Jewish state.

Yet his blunt denial of the Arab Peace Initiative contrasted starkly with overtures made by U.S. President Barack Obama, who on Tuesday urged Israelis and Palestinians to take concrete steps towards peace and dubbed the Arab Peace Initiative "a very constructive start."

Lieberman's remarks also diverged from the standpoint held by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Earlier this week, Barak urged new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has yet to reveal his diplomatic policy, to formulate Israel's peace plan based on the Arab initiative.

Since he took office three weeks ago, Lieberman has repeatedly sent chills into the already stalemated Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

He also dismissed the U.S.-hosted peace conference in Annapolis in 2007 and said that previous peace efforts have reached a dead end and new ideas must be raised. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/rsm

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