Time to implement the Arab Peace Initiative, by Mark Seddon

Time to implement the Arab Peace Initiative, by Mark Seddon
Photo by Mohammed Ibrahim / Unsplash

This week marks five months since the Hamas incursion into southern Israel and the beginning of an Israeli military campaign that has so far taken over 30,000 lives, mainly women and children, left around 100,000 wounded and much of Gaza – one of the most densely populated places on earth - a smoldering moonscape of utter destruction. The International Court of Justice has already adjudicated that it ‘is plausible that Israel's acts could amount to genocide’.

The Biden Administration, which thus far has vetoed every attempt at achieving a ceasefire at the UN Security Council, is setting its hopes on an agreement between Hamas and the Israelis before Ramadan. The ICJ ruling and the looming Israeli campaign in Rafah, now home to over a million refugees in an area usually home to just over 200,000 people, is concentrating minds. Cynics may argue that what is also concentrating Biden’s mind is the fact that his stubborn support for Israel is fast losing him support amongst voters.

The US, along with Britain and Germany, is hopelessly compromised by the support it continues to give to Israel. This is the view of the Arab World and the global South. Increasingly, the ‘rules-based order’ championed by the West appears to many to be hypocritical and one sided.

Which may explain the new confidence of countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Nicaragua to speak out for the Palestinians and use all of the international instruments at their disposal. It also throws into sharp relief the key role that is being played by Qatar in ceasefire negotiation as well as the quiet work, behind the scenes of countries such as Morocco. The Biden administration is now desperate to extricate itself from a quagmire partially of its own making.

Enter one of the most respected former senior UN diplomats and a former Arab Statesman, Lakhdar Brahimi. Brahimi proposes that the Arab World should not only be taking the initiative, but that it is ready to re-launch and it comes in the shape of the Arab Peace Initiative. This was unanimously adopted in Beirut in 2002, but never implemented. The conditions are the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem and the right of refugees to return to Palestine according to UN resolutions, in exchange for a permanent peace between Israel and the Arab countries.

Brahimi and many others believe that now is the time for the Arab Peace Initiative to be implemented. There is an inescapable logic he believes and it is contained in an old Arab proverb that says: “Persistent injustice and oppression will lead to destruction, whereas durable justice builds up to prosperity.”

*Mark Seddon is a former Speechwriter to UN Secretary-General Ban ki moon & former Adviser to the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly

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