Arabs and Muslims are up in arms over a controversial visit to Israel by a retired Saudi general, Dr. Anwar Eshki, who is being accused of promoting “normalization with the Jews and the Zionist entity.” If “normalization” with Israel is being denounced as a major crime and sin, one can only imagine what “peace” with Israelis would be considered in the Arab and Islamic countries.
General Eshki and a delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen met with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen. Yoav Moderchai and several Knesset members from the opposition. The Saudi delegation also travelled to Ramallah, where its members met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials.
The anger engendered by the unprecedented visit by the Saudi delegation to Israel shows that many Arabs and Muslims continue to believe that Israel has no right to exist despite the optimism voiced over the so-called Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.
Several Arab and Muslim leaders insist that, according to this initiative, an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital would lead to the creation of “normal relations” between their countries and Israel.
However, the outrage the Saudi delegation’s visit to Israel has triggered throughout the Arab and Islamic countries points to one conclusion: that for many Arabs and Muslims, the conflict with Israel is not about a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. Nor is the conflict about Palestinian rights and “normal relations” between Israel and the Arab and Islamic countries.
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