Wednesday, July 25, 2007
"Israel is "not far from a photo op with the Saudis," a senior government source said Wednesday following a historic visit to Jerusalem by the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan as representatives of the Arab League.
The source added that talks with the Saudis have been taking place via a third party for some time.
Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Jordan's Abdelelah Al-Khatib came to promote the Arab peace initiative, which the Arab League summit in Riyadh reaffirmed earlier this year. The two met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and also visited the Knesset.
During the meeting, Olmert stressed the importance of other Arab countries joining the peace process, referring mainly to Saudi Arabia.
"We hope Israel and the Palestinian Authority will make sufficient progress in their meetings to create the necessary atmosphere for normalizing relations between Israel and the rest of the Arab world," Aboul Gheit told Olmert.......
Olmert replied that "Israel is interested in discussing the peace initiative with the Arab states with an open heart and an open mind." He also expressed the hope that on the Arab foreign ministers' next visit, representatives from other Arab states would join them for talks on the peace initiative.....
Aboul Gheit told the committee that the Arab League's peace initiative is an opportunity for Israel to improve its ties with 56 Muslim countries, adding that the initiative is not an "all or nothing" deal, but a basis for negotiations....."