Saudi Arabia’s refusal to accept President Trump’s 2020 peace plan to replace the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API) was the decisive factor in Secretary of State Pompeo’s unsuccessful attempts to convince Sudan, Bahrain and Oman to follow the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and sign peace treaties with Israel.
Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah was the architect of the API which requires Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza, Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the 'West Bank' (Judea and Samaria).
Sudan, Bahrain and Oman closed ranks behind Saudi Arabia – refusing to jettison a plan drawn up 18 years ago that has since been overtaken by the following two major events:
- The April 14, 2004 letter from President Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon – overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Representatives 407-9 on 23 June 2004 and the Senate 95-3 the next day.
Bush’s letter – given to back Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza - made it clear that America did not consider it realistic for Israel to have to comply with the API’s territorial demands:
"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”
- The 2007 Annapolis International Conference convened by President Bush and attended by Russia, China, the European Union, the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Oman, the UAE, another 7 Arab States and about another 30 non-Arab states.
Israel’s then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Israel’s readiness to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority “based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”
No mention was made of the API forming part of those renewed negotiations – nor could it be - since its total territorial withdrawal demands had been undercut by the Bush Congress-endorsed letter.
Those Arab nations and entities – indeed all parties present at the Conference - failed to object or demur to the new territorial reality of partial Israeli withdrawal which the Bush letter had engendered.
Saudi Arabia’s insistence on Israel’s total territorial withdrawal stipulated by the API as the price to be paid for Saudi Arabia signing a peace treaty with Israel has been seemingly backed by Sudan,Bahrain and Oman to prolong the 100 years-old Arab-Jewish conflict.
The Trump vision for peace is a plan that can end that conflict. It needs to be embraced by all who attended the Annapolis Conference – especially by Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bahrain and Oman now joining the UAE as real trailblazers for peace.
Trump did not present his meticulously detailed deal of the century to see it rejected before its implementation was even attempted.
Pressure by top Trump aides in the region this week to get Saudi Arabia to endorse Trump’s plan is certain.
Failure to do so could see Trump administering his proven shockwave therapy to jolt Sudan,Bahrain and Oman from backing Saudi Arabia’s continuing rejection of Trump’s plan.
Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog