Thursday, September 15, 2005

Qatar's Foreign Minister: Arabs should talk to Israel

Arab countries should make a gesture towards Israel after its withdrawal from Gaza by talking with their Middle East neighbour to chart a future for the region, Qatar's foreign minister has said.

'Arab countries must take a step towards Israel through an international meeting or a meeting between Arab states and Israel and the co-sponsors of peace, particularly the United States, in an attempt to come up with a clear vision to the period after Gaza,' Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani said in a speech on Wednesday at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Praising the Israeli pullout after 37 years of occupation in Gaza, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said Arab countries should respond, stressing that 'it is very important that there be a clear vision after this step'.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said the Gaza pullout could bring normalisation of relations with Israel to prominence, but he acknowledged the issue remains 'controversial' in the Arab and the Islamic worlds.

This is interesting. The Pakistani overtures strike me as being just a cynical attempt to gain favor from the US, but this sounds like he really means it.

My guess is that there will be some sort of temporary "peace dividend" from the Gaza withdrawal, but it will disappear pretty quickly as the Arabs retrench and start amplifying their next set of never-ending demands from Israel.