On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Saudi delegates invited representatives from 25 countries to a closed meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Western diplomats said – Israel was not invited.
The meeting was held to mark the 20-year anniversary of the Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi Initiative.
A 10-sentence proposal for an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arab Peace Initiative was published in 2002. It offers normalization of relations by the Arab world with Israel in return for the full withdrawal by Israel from the “occupied territories,” the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, and a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee problem.
It also comes two months after the two-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, which saw normalization between Israel and several Arab states.
The meeting was held in New York, the United States under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, alongside European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs Barbara Leaf also represented Washington at the event, as well as Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki and senior officials from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Norway, Britain, and France, among others.
In the invitation to the forum, the Saudi delegation stated that it was intended to deal with the stagnation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the status of a two-state solution.
Israel was surprised by the meeting and only found out about its existence from an advertisement on the Saudi Al-Arabiya network.