A pointless feeler

Why announce this?

Israel is seriously considering participating in an Arab League working group to be set up as part of efforts to implement the decision taken at the League summit last month endorsing full normalization in return for a withdrawal to the Green Line, senior diplomatic sources said.

It would mark the first time Israel and an Arab League body have held diplomatic contacts, but the discussions would be limited to Arab League states that have ties with Israel: Egypt, Jordan and Qatar.

However, the sources cautioned that Israel had still not received any formal invitation to take part in working group discussions, and the Arab League had not yet set up the group. — Jerusalem Post

“Senior diplomatic sources” apparently didn’t explain how Israel could help ‘implement’ a plan that it is specifically not permitted to have input to: representatives of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt have all explained that the plan must first be accepted in toto before there can be any talks. And as it stands it is a plan that Israel cannot possibly accept, since it includes a right of return for refugees, and a full return to the Green Line.

I understand that Israel needs to show that she is willing to talk, wants peace, etc. But the Arab league initiative is not an invitation to talk, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it package that Israel can’t afford to take.

Olmert has already suggested a summit between Israel and the Arabs on the principle that the Arab League initiative is a starting point for negotiations, not an end point. But the Arabs immediately rejected this.

Now Israel is inviting itself to a forum that doesn’t exist. The obvious next move is for the Arabs to announce that as soon as Israel accepts their initiative, they are ready to talk about practical details of the withdrawal and refugee return. Let’s see how long this takes.

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