'Arabs must seek peace for the sake of peace'

Thursday, June 23, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Leaders of the Europe-based Friends of Israel Initiative on Wednesday released a statement calling on the Palestinians and the Arab world to seek peace with Israel for the sake of peace alone, and not in order to recover lost land.

The organization lamented that the Middle East peace process has reached a point where only Israel is subjected to major demands, and that the failure of the peace process is always blamed on Israel for insisting on reciprocity.

"If it is only one side that gives in, then there will be no solution, ever," read the statement. "If it is only Israel that is subjected to demands, the peace process will go nowhere."

The Friends of Israel Initiative insisted that "peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not dependent upon a question of territory: it is a matter of unequivocally accepting the other side's right to exist."

The primary demand of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the peace process has been that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel's right to exist as the Jewish state. Abbas has refused, and has instead maintained the position that the only question is how much land the Palestinians will receive.

The Friends of Israel Initiative believes Abbas is barking up the wrong tree.

"Israel’s experience with the view that peace can only be achieved by making territorial concessions has not been good," the group pointed out. "Its successive withdrawals from territories that neighbour Israel have only brought about more violence and the need to fight once again to ensure its security."

The Friends of Israel Initiative is headed by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and includes many distinguished members like former First Minister of Northern Ireland David Trimble and former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton.

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