JERUSALEM – Following scores of denials he would trumpet the plan, President Obama today hailed a so-called “Saudi Peace Initiative,” which offers normalization of ties with the Jewish state in exchange for extreme Israeli concessions.
Defenders of Israel warn the plan would leave the Jewish state with truncated, difficult-to-defend borders and could threaten Israel’s Jewish character by compelling it to accept millions of foreign Arabs.
WND was first to report last November advisers to then-presidential candidate Obama gave positive reception in meetings with Arab diplomats to the Saudi plan – but the reports were strongly denied by Obama’s campaign.
Today, in an interview with an Arab television network – his first formal interview as president – Obama trumpeted the Saudi initiative:
“Well, here’s what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. … I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage to put forward something that is as significant as that. I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace. I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what’s happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Obama said he “believes” that there are “Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side.”
In November, WND quoted a top Arab diplomatic source stating Obama advisers held meetings with Arab countries in which the Saudi Initiative was “very present.”
The source said in most cases it was the Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, that stressed the importance of the plan. He said Obama’s advisers expressed a positive attitude toward the plan, but he stopped short of confirming a London Times article that claimed Obama would make the plan a central part of his Mideast policy.
Then-senior Obama Mideast adviser Dennis Ross flatly denied the Times report, which quoted a source close to Obama stating that the president-elect intended to throw his support behind the Arab plan. Ross is now Obama’s Mideast envoy.
One senior Obama adviser was quoted telling the Times that on a visit to the Middle East last July, Obama said privately to the Palestinian leadership it would be “crazy” for Israel to refuse the Saudi Initiative, which Obama purportedly said could “give them peace with the Muslim world.”
Although Ross denied Obama would trumpet the Arab plan, Israeli President Shimon Peres told the British in November that in conversations he held with the president-elect, Obama proclaimed himself “very impressed” with the the Saudi plan, which was ratified by the Arab League. Peres was responding to questions about whether he thought Obama would advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in general and the Saudi plan in particular.
Initiative threatens Jewish state
The Saudi Initiative, originally proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002, states that Israel would receive “normal relations” with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Temple Mount.
The West Bank contains important Jewish biblical sites and borders central Israeli population centers, while the Golan Heights looks down on Israeli civilian zones and twice was used by Syria to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.
The Saudi plan also demands the imposition of a non-binding U.N. resolution that calls for so-called Palestinian refugees who wish to move inside Israel to be permitted to do so at the “earliest practicable date.”
Palestinians have long demanded the “right of return” for millions of “refugees,” a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel’s destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Arabs, thereby changing its demographics.
When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, some 725,000 Arabs living within Israel’s borders fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution.
While most Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel and other countries, the majority of Palestinian Arabs have been maintained in 59 U.N.-run camps that do not seek to settle its inhabitants elsewhere.
There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the U.N., including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs; Arabs living full-time in Jordan; and Arabs who long ago emigrated throughout the Middle East and to the West.
According to Arab sources close to the Saudi Initiative, Arab countries are willing to come to an agreement whereby Israel absorbs about 500,000 “refugees” and reaches a compensation deal with the PA for the remaining millions of Palestinians.
Obama advisers back Arab plan
Some top Obama current and former advisers have recently endorsed the Arab Initiative. The Times referenced a partisan group of senior foreign policy advisers who urged Obama to give the Arab plan top priority immediately after his election victory, including Lee Hamilton, the former co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Democratic former national security adviser. Brent Scowcroft, a Republican former national security adviser, also joined in the appeal.