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The Arab initiative and the role of Arab diplomacy

10 December 2002

By Marwan Muasher
Foreign Minister of Jordan

The security and humanitarian situation in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel has never been worse. The current year has witnessed a total breakdown of trust between the two sides, with an alarming hardening, indeed radicalization, of positions in both camps. This is not an atmosphere conducive to any attempts to resume the political process, or steps to create a new dynamic able to successfully resolve this longstanding conflict. Surprisingly, we are nonetheless witnessing serious efforts to deal with the root causes of the conflict for both sides, most of them being put forward from an unexpected quarter for the Israeli public—Arab states.

To the Israeli public, this might seem like a hopeless piece of Arab propaganda. I beg to differ. Let me outline the various steps that Arab states have taken since the beginning of this year to attempt a serious alternative to the bleak options that seem to exist only regarding the conflict. I suggest that the Arab initiative unanimously endorsed in Beirut in March of this year is a very serious attempt to squarely face the needs of both sides, and to satisfactorily address them.


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