Rami G. Khouri writes in Lebanon’s Daily Star with a suggestion to break the Middle East impasse:
I have a suggestion. The Netanyahu move does not meet the legitimate demands of the Palestinians, the Obama administration, Security Council resolutions or international law and conventions, yet we should not merely dismiss it and remain diplomatically frozen. Israel is offering to commit only half the crimes it has committed for the last 40 years, by reducing the scale and pace of its colonization of occupied Arab lands. American, British, French and other Western officials find this a positive step forward, and are free to wade in their moralistic mud pits and diplomatic fantasy worlds. We should no longer play this ugly game, whose operative contours are what Israel and its proxies in Washington allow the US government to do in the Middle East.Rather, the Palestinians and Arabs this week should acknowledge the partial and symbolic gesture by Israel to the United States as precisely what it is: a partial and symbolic gesture to the US, not a serious, substantive move to engage the Arabs in a comprehensive peace process. We should take the next move to generate a new and better dynamic.After consultations with key players in the region, the Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, should announce that in response to the sincere American effort to re-start comprehensive peace talks, and to take the Israeli gesture to its logical conclusion, a delegation of Arab foreign ministers and the secretary general of the Arab League will be at United Nations headquarters in Geneva at 10:00 a.m. on December 10 to negotiate comprehensive, permanent, mutually agreed peace and coexistence arrangements with the state of Israel.We will do this on the basis of several principles that reflect the Arab position (the Israelis can outline theirs): We go to negotiate under the aegis of the 1991 Madrid Peace conference mandate that itself mirrors UN Security Council calls for Arab-Israeli negotiations; on the basis of the 2002 Arab Peace Plan that offers a framework of principles for justice, conflict-resolution, peace and coexistence between Arabs and Israelis; acknowledging the relevance of the January 2001 Clinton Parameters and the January 2001 Moratinos-European Union Non-Paper that captured the Israeli and Palestinian positions after the Camp David and Taba talks; and, with the US and UN secretary-general as principal mediators.We go to Geneva to directly negotiate final-status issues, starting with borders, refugees, Jerusalem, and mutual recognition and security. We will do this seriously for three months, after which the process will stop if no agreements or significant breakthroughs to final-status accords are reached.