Major peace effort launched by Saudi Arabia, Arab League, and EU

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Saudi Gazette report

NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia, in partnership with the Arab League and the European Union, has joined forces with Egypt and Jordan to launch a significant initiative aimed at revitalizing the peace process.

This historic effort was officially inaugurated during a ministerial meeting held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. The meeting gathered nearly 50 foreign ministers from across the globe.

The primary objective of this collaborative endeavor is to develop a comprehensive “Peace Supporting Package” that will maximize the benefits of peace for both Palestinians and Israelis once a peace agreement is achieved.

The initiative will focus on creating detailed programs and contributions, contingent upon the finalization of a status agreement, to promote peace and ensure that all inhabitants of the region can enjoy its advantages.

The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has hindered the realization of lasting peace for many decades. Despite efforts since the initiation of the peace process in Madrid in 1991, the prospects for a Two-State Solution remain elusive.

Agreements, including the Oslo Accords, have not been fully honored, and the situation on the ground has become increasingly untenable.

The present status quo is no longer sustainable, particularly in the midst of a global landscape plagued by conflicts. Neglecting the imperative to reinvigorate the peace process does a disservice to all parties involved and threatens the stability of the Middle East, both now and in the future.

The renewed initiative is based on the urgent need to preserve the Two-State Solution, ensuring the establishment of a viable, sovereign, independent, and contiguous Palestinian state along the June 4, 1967 lines.

It underscores the importance of respecting international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights, as well as adhering to and fully implementing United Nations Security Council resolutions related to the Palestinian question.

This includes the most recent UNSC Resolution 2334, which condemns any measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.

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The initiative emphasizes that no changes will be recognized to the June 4, 1967 lines, including Jerusalem, except those agreed upon through negotiations. Furthermore, it upholds the unchanged status quo of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites, with a particular emphasis on the Hashemite Custodianship.

The pressing need to rejuvenate a meaningful peace process in line with international law, UNSC resolutions, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and the 2013 EU peace support offer cannot be overstated. Failure to do so may lead to further deterioration, posing a threat to regional and international security.

This Peace Day Effort is built upon several foundations, including the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which outlines the Arab States’ vision for comprehensive regional peace and its terms and requirements.

Predicated on the full withdrawal from all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967 in exchange for full normalization, the API gained endorsement from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and was welcomed by the European Union and the United Nations.

The Peace Day Effort also draws from the 2013 EU offer to provide an “unprecedented package of political, security, and economic support” to both parties in the context of a final status agreement.

The Peace Day Effort aims to elucidate the benefits of the API and the European peace support package while engaging all existing and potential international efforts. It is open to all parties willing to make substantial contributions to this endeavor.

Based on these principles, the initiators aim to create a comprehensive “Peace Supporting Package.” This package will be implemented immediately after “Peace Day” when a peace agreement based on the Two-State Solution is reached. Such a comprehensive package will help sustain peace and yield dividends for all parties involved.

Importantly, the Peace Day Effort does not seek to provide additional details to the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreement beyond internationally agreed-upon parameters. Instead, it envisions what peace between Israelis and Palestinians could mean for relations in the Middle East region and beyond.

It emphasizes that all such benefits can only materialize on Peace Day, not before or as a prelude.

During the inaugural meeting, working groups were launched to elaborate on the components of the comprehensive “Peace Supporting Package.” All participants were invited to contribute to these working groups.

The Working Groups will focus on identifying substantive elements of the “Peace Supporting Package.” They will convene at the Special Envoy or Ambassadorial level and benefit from expert input.

Co-chairs will coordinate their work, and they will organize conferences, symposia, and studies to produce detailed, realistic, and feasible components of the package.

The Working Groups established include, a Political and Security Working Group, focusing on potential post-peace regional, political, and security cooperation mechanisms, an Economic and Environmental Working Group, concentrating on economic cooperation proposals, including trade, investment, innovation, transport infrastructure, natural resources, climate change, and the environment, and a Human Dimension Working Group, addressing cooperation in humanitarian, intercultural, and human security issues in accordance with UNGA Resolution 66/290.

Progress on the Peace Supporting Package will be assessed every three months, with the first assessment scheduled for December 2023. The aim is to have the package ready for presentation by September 2024.

The contributors to the Peace Day Effort will determine whether the Working Groups have concluded their work or need to continue. The conveners have established mechanisms to engage separately with the Palestinians and Israelis to the maximum extent possible.

Halting unilateral measures that undermine the Two-State Solution, including settlement activities, land confiscation, house evictions, violence, and incitement to violence, is imperative.

Additionally, it is crucial to ensure the preservation of the historic status quo of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites, the role of the Hashemite Custodianship, and the mandate of the Islamic Waqf Department.

In tandem with these efforts, credible negotiations with a clear timeline to end the conflict and achieve peace must be prioritized. All parties are called upon to support Palestinian economic development and overcome obstacles, including through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).

Failure to preserve the viability of the Two-State Solution and initiate negotiations may further dim the prospects for peace, leaving conflict to define the region’s future, as it has in the past.

While the Peace Day Effort alone cannot achieve peace, it can usher in a new era of prosperity, achievement, and cooperation among all countries and peoples in the region. The initiators invite all parties to join this essential endeavor.

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