- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
Arab leaders, Olmert discuss peace plan
Question of the Day
TEL AVIV — Foreign ministers from Jordan and Egypt made a groundbreaking visit to Jerusalem yesterday to promote an Arab League peace plan that offers normal diplomatic relations in exchange for a return to Israel“s pre-1967 borders.
Israel, which confirmed that it has begun separate peace talks with the Palestinians, portrayed the meetings as an unprecedented visit from the 22-nation Arab League, most of whose members have no diplomatic ties with Israel.
Worried about the rise of Islamist political forces across the Arab world, many Israeli observers embraced the meetings involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib as a chance to tighten cooperation with Western-oriented Arab states.
“It is a very positive step and could well be an indication of the growing awareness that the time may be opportune to moving ahead and making progress,” said David Baker, a spokesman for Mr. Olmert. “It was a highly constructive meeting. There was an open dialogue, which is quite positive.”
Under the Saudi-initiated Arab League peace proposal, the organization’s members would establish full relations with Israel in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Golan Heights, territories captured in the 1967 war.
Although Egypt and Jordan both have diplomatic relations with Israel, it was the first time that an Arab League delegation has visited the country for formal discussions of the peace plan. The initiative is seen as a regionwide complement to the U.S.-backed “road map” blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Meanwhile, British government officials confirmed Israeli press reports that they have been discussing the outlines of a final peace agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, although they stressed that no detailed negotiations have been held on outstanding issues.
Britain has also increased contacts with the Palestinian militant movement Hamas, denounced by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist group, said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in an interview published today.
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper from Gaza City, Mr. Haniyeh said his group has widened links with Britain since reporter Alan Johnston of the British Broadcasting Corp. was released by his kidnappers earlier this month.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is scheduled to visit the region next week, has pushed the sides to begin talks on a “political horizon” for peace as a way of creating momentum for renewed talks. But the Arab foreign ministers called for swift progress on negotiations.
“We need a precise timetable, a quick timetable, and we urge Israel not to waste this historic opportunity. Time is not on our side,” Mr. al-Khatib told reporters at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Reuters news agency reported.
Even members of Israel’s right wing, which opposes the Arab peace plan, acknowledged the visit’s significance.
“It’s a meeting with a lot of potential,” said Effie Eitam, a member of a hard-line party in parliament, after the two foreign ministers appeared before the legislature’s foreign affairs and defense committee.
The foreign ministers plan to report back to the Arab League on Israel’s response to the peace plan. But it was not clear how enthusiastic other Arab nations are about the initiative. A league spokesman in Egypt was reported by news agencies to be distancing the organization from the visit. And even some Israelis were wary.
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- SOWELL:Bordering on immigration madness
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq