Jerusalem (AsiaNews) –The Israeli Prime Minister says he is prepared to take part in a regional peace conference together with Arab leaders, to discuss the Saudi peace initiative. Olmert has also confirmed that he will also attend a conference with moderate Arab nations if Saudi Arabia invites the Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Olmert made the declaration during a press conference with visiting German chancellor Angela Merkel, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency. Abbas has previously urged Israel to commit itself to direct negations with the Palestinian Authority.
The peace plan was revitalized last week during the course of the Arab League summit in Riyadh. First launched 5 years ago, it proposes the recognition of Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to within pre 1967 borders, allowing for the birth of a Palestinian state and a “just solution” to the question of refugees.
In 2002, when the plan was first put forward, Israel refused it. In the past few days, Olmert has said that with some corrections the plan could serve as a basis for negotiations.
Olmert’s new found openness has been influenced by increased pressure from the US EU and other moderate Arab nations. The Usa and Egypt have pushed Israel to urgently begin a process of dialogue with a committee of Arab nations to advance the peace process.