It only took 11 years for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warm to the idea of the 2002 Arab League Initiative, announcing today that he is willing to at least “consider” some parts of the proposal.
That may seem like a long time, but all moves within the Israeli government that might include any conceivable future peace settlement move at a snail’s pace. Netanyahu only got around to commenting on the matter at all in 2007, when he condemned the plan as unacceptable, saying allowing the Palestinians a state in the West Bank would “establish a terror base for radical Islam.”
The plan calls for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories seized in 1967, something Israeli officials have repeatedly ruled out, and offers normalized relations with the entire Arab world in return. The plan was revised earlier this year, with the Arab League supporting the notion of limited territory swaps to allow Israel to keep certain settlements.
Netanyahu followed up his vague statement about “considering” the plan by demanding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas unconditionally return to peace talks. Abbas has said he is waiting for Israel to make any actual proposals.