Instead, they created "working groups" that will seek to drum up support for the deal from the U.S., UN and Europe. U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan hope the smaller groups will be able to be more flexible in promoting the offer to win acceptance, despite the summit's rejection of changes.
Saudi Arabia should head working groups
"The Palestinian people is sincere in extending its hand of peace to the Israeli people, and I call on that people and its leaders to share that dream with us," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the summit in a speech Thursday.
He said Saudi Arabia should head the working groups, which should have "freedom to move according to the circumstances to achieve our national goals."
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, left, talks to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal after the opening session of the Arab Summit in Riyadh on Wednesday.The summit, which ends later Thursday, was to call on Israel to "accept the Arab peace initiative" and reopen "direct and serious negotiations," according to a draft resolution.
(Awad Awad/Associated Press)
The initiative offers Israel recognition and permanent peace with all Arab countries in return for:
- Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
- Setting up a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
- A "just solution" to the issue of Palestinian refugees forced out of lands in what is now Israel.
Arab allies of the U.S. painted the peace offer as key to achieving progress at a time of mounting crises across the Mideast, including the bloodshed in Iraq. The Arab summit was to call on Iraq's Shia-led government to change its constitution and military to give a greater role to Sunni Arabs.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa rejected amending the peace offer, saying, "They tell us to amend it, but we tell them to accept it first, then we can sit down at the negotiating table."
But he said the Arabs must "do more to convince" the Israelis on the offer.