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Monday, June 13, 2016

Understanding Netanyahu’s Rejection of the Arab Peace Initiative

Foundation for Middle East Peace

Understanding Netanyahu’s Rejection of the Arab Peace Initiative

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June 13, 2016 Mitchell Plitnick On Monday, just two weeks after saying that he accepted the “general idea” of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected it as a basis for talks with the Palestinians. This rejection is actually more than it seems, and it is important to understand both what the API itself says and, concomitantly, what Netanyahu’s rejection implies.
Netanyahu actually made two statements about the API, both problematic. One was that he wanted the Arab League to alter it to reflect Israel’s demands. The second was that if this was a “take it or leave it offer” Israel would leave it.
With the first point, Netanyahu implied that Israel’s concerns are not sufficiently addressed by the Arab League proposal. In fact, the Initiative offered a major break from longstanding Arab state policy regarding Israel. It promised not only peace with Israel but normal relations with the entire Arab world. The economic benefits to Israel there are enormous, opening Arab markets in a way never before conceived, much less offered. Back in 2011, former President Bill Clinton expressed frustration at Netanyahu for his unwillingness to accept the API. “This is huge,” Clinton said, “It’s a heck of a deal.”

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