The article “Israeli-Palestinian group presents economic benefits to Saudi Peace Initiative” (April 3) distorts the “refugee” clause of the Saudi initiative, as if it simply calls for a “just solution” for Arab refugees and descendants lingering in transient UNRWA facilities since 1948. However, the words of the initiative were different: “a just and agreed solution to the refugee problem on the basis of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 1948. If Israel agrees to these terms, the Arab states will consider this to be the end of the conflict and will establish normal relations with Israel.” Israel can never agree to these terms.
Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, then-president of Tel Aviv University and a prominent figure in the Israeli peace camp, revealed the actual contents of the refugee clause of the Saudi initiative in real-time. On April 7, 2002, he wrote that “the relatively flexible formula on the right of return issue that was in the statement read out by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa was neutralized by the explicit demand for the right of return” in the final draft. Rabinovich also noted that “in order to obtain the support of the rest of the Arab world, the simplistic formula had to be waived…. The conference published a concluding statement that emphasized… that Israel must allow Palestinians to achieve all their rights, including the guarantee for the right of return… on the basis of principles of international law including General Assembly Resolution 194.”
So much for illusions of the Saudi initiative.