Revived Saudi Peace Plan Rejected

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli officials said renewed interest in the Saudi peace initiative has more to do with transitional political periods in the U.S. and Israel and the stalled diplomatic process than with anything substantive.

"Whenever the process stalls, there will be those who will pull out the Saudi plan," one senior Israeli official said. "And the Saudis have an interest in pushing this out there now to put on a 'constructive face' with which to greet the new U.S. president," he said.

In Israel, President Shimon Peres spoke with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, about the need for a comprehensive regional initiative.

Defense Minister and Labor party chairman Ehud Barak told Army Radio Sunday that he and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni revisited the Saudi plan during coalition talks.

"There is definitely room to introduce a comprehensive Israeli plan to counter the Saudi plan, which would be the basis for a discussion on overall peace," Barak said.

In an interview with the Spanish El Pais daily, Jordan's King Abdullah lauded the Saudi initiative as a "genuine opportunity" for peace.

Not to be left out, Britain's The Guardian paper featured an article entitled, "Time to resurrect the Arab peace plan."

But Israeli officials dismissed the talk.

"The negotiations with the Palestinians are stalled, coalition talks are underway and various ideas are thrown out there," one senior official said.

"It's also Sukkot , there is not much going on, so half-formed ideas, which are discussed in the framework of coalition talks, get a lot more traction than they normally would," he said.

"There is no government to talk about this. No here, not in the PA and not in the U.S.," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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