Last updated on: 5/15/2012 5:46:41 PM PST

What Is the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (a.k.a. The Saudi Plan / 2002 Beirut Summit)?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
CNN, in an article posted to its website on Mar. 28, 2002 titled "Arab Summit Adopts Saudi Peace," stated:

"The Arab League adopted... the first 'pan-Arab initiative' for peace in the Middle East, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa announced.

The plan, offered by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, was adopted in a closed session following hours of wrangling over its final language.

The plan, in its broadest terms, offers Israel security and 'normal relations' in exchange for a withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, creation of an independent Palestinian state with al-Quds al-Shareef (East Jerusalem) as its capital, and the 'return of refugees...'

In addition, the declaration says the summit 'rejects all forms of resettlement of Palestinians which conflicts with the special circumstances in the Arab host countries,' an apparent reference to the Lebanese objections.

Asked how 'normal relations' are defined, Prince Saud al Faisal, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, said, 'We envision a relationship between the Arab countries and Israel that is exactly like the relationship between the Arab countries and any other state...'

Saudi sources told CNN that the prince intentionally did not spell out the specifics on what was meant by 'all occupied Arab territories' and 'the return of refugees' to allow the Israelis to settle those matters through negotiations with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese."

Mar. 28, 2002 - CNN (Cable News Network) 

Ami Isseroff, DSc, Director of MidEastWeb for Coexistence, in an article posted to on Mar. 28, 2002, wrote:

"Of course, the Arab peace initiative would require Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Golan Heights and their return to Syria. Since the United States is not interested in supporting any peace process with Syria as long as the Assad regime remains in place, and has discouraged Israel from pursuing peace with Syria, it is not surprising that the United States, as well as Israel, were not enthusiastic about this initiative.

The King of Jordan and President of Egypt did not attend the summit. Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat was prevented from attending by the Israeli government, but Farouq Kaddoumi represented the PLO. Israeli reaction to the plan was lukewarm, in part because the initiative came at the height of the violence in 2002. Terrorist attacks had killed about 100 Israelis in that month and Israel was concerned with addressing that problem urgently. The Arab states all supported or acquiesced in this 'resistance' in the form of suicide attacks and would soon join in the false accusation that Israel had committed a massacre in Jenin, during operation Defensive Wall. Peace was not politically feasible from the Israeli point of view and wasn't on the agenda.

Notably, there was apparently no other written communique published by the conference.

A similar proposal had been made by the Saudis in the 1980s and adopted as the Fez initiative. This plan is a significant advance on the previous one, in that it specifically mentions peace with Israel. Depending on one's point of view, this is either an indication that the Saudis are persistent in their pursuit of peace, or an indication that they are continually raising such proposals as a tactic to win the favor of the United States and embarrass Israel, without being sincere about peace."

Mar. 28, 2002 - Ami Isseroff, DSc