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Arab Peace Initiative: Evaluating Past, Present, and Future

In war prepare for peace; in peace prepare for war. - Sun Tzu

While the latter reflects the contemporary reality West Asia has been dealing with, the signs of the former are quite bleak and vague. With the apparent failure of major peace deals and initiatives, the region has yet again descended into a war escalating the death of thousands. 

An illustration on Arab Peace Initiative displaying tanks and military.

Illustration by Team Geostrata

The recent attacks by Hamas on Israel are called Israel's own 26/11 moment by some; it is again another round of warfare and hostilities, with repeated and more loudly reiterated objectives and targets. 

The prospects for peace in future are a crucial geopolitical issue to bring up. However, it can be traced back to the early 2000s when efforts for restoration of stability and security were made by the Arab World and Israel. 

The Arab peace initiative, also known as the Saudi Peace Plan and Abdullah Plan, marked the formal beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On 28 March 2002, the Arab League published proposals for peace with Israel. 

It's equally crucial to review the historical context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, to understand the significance of this peace initiative. The roots of the conflict can be traced back to the late 19th century when Jewish immigrants began settling in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

In the mid-20th century, the United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. This decision led to the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 and created the foundation for decades of conflict.

In 1967, another war, the Six-Day War, intensified tensions when Israel captured significant territories, including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. These instances set the stage for multiple peace initiatives attempted to resolve the conflict. The Arab Peace Initiative, 2002, being one of the most comprehensive efforts to achieve a lasting peace.


The Saudi-led initiative has seven conditions that offer normalization of relations by the Arab world with Israel.

  •  Full withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories (including the West Bank, Gaza, the Syrian Golan Heights, and Lebanon).

  • A "just settlement" of the Palestinian refugee problem based on United Nations Resolution 194.

  • Commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. 

In exchange for those measures, the member states of the Arab League would:

  • Declare an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict, entering into a peace agreement with Israel; and

  • Establish normal relations with the State of Israel.

However, not every stakeholder is actively bound to the initiatives undertaken as a part of API. There are divided factions amongst the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, the international community and the civil society


The Arab Peace Initiative has remained a central component of diplomatic efforts for West Asia peace, despite it met with mixed reactions during initial periods. In 2007, the Arab League Summit in Riyadh, reconfirmed its support for the initiative, further offering opportunities to Israel to set a tone with the Arab states. Dialogues were incorporated again in the 2007 Annapolis Conference, a peace summit attended by Israeli, Palestinian, and international leaders.

In 2013, the Arab Peace Initiative was endorsed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), bolstering its credibility and regional support. It was also mentioned in United Nations Security Council Resolutions (2008) and (2018) as part of the peace process.

Since its inception, the Arab Peace Initiative has gone through various developments and challenges but subsequent developments and modifications have added nuance to the initiative's framework.


Israelis have lost confidence in giving Palestine power enough to form an independent state if a tiny fraction of it could escalate wars in its territory. The main roadblock has been the inability of the Palestinians to convince Israeli voters that if given sovereignty in some part of the land, they would leave the Jews alone in the other. 

However, some opine that the Israeli occupation of Palestine territories should end for lasting peace. The Palestinian territories have been under the weight of the longest occupation in contemporary history.

No peace process exists. Israel has kept up its settlement construction in the West Bank, increased security barriers and checkpoints, restricted Palestinian movement, and has never shied away from using force or collective punishment to subdue organised Palestinians. The current situation has simply made Palestinians more extreme and strengthened Hamas.

The most likely route to breaking the deadlock in the Israel-Palestine conflict may end up for Israel and the Arab world to issue a new statement in which the API serves as the foundation for new negotiations, along with a willingness to strengthen the Palestinian people’s weakening position and restart the political process with it.


In the current West Asia landscape, the Arab Peace Initiative remains a notable diplomatic proposal with the potential to provide a framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and advancing regional stability.

  • The initiative's call for a two-state solution remains in line with international consensus and United Nations resolutions. It offers a path for establishing a viable and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, ensuring the rights and self-determination of both peoples.

  • Comprehensive peace in West Asia, as envisioned by the initiative, could contribute to regional stability and security. It could pave the way for economic cooperation, shared resources, and reduced tensions among states.

  • The Arab Peace Initiative aligns with the principles supported by the international community, making it a valuable framework for negotiations. It provides a starting point for dialogue between the concerned parties.

  • In a region marked by conflicts and rivalries, the initiative encourages diplomatic engagement and negotiation as a means to resolve disputes. It offers a diplomatic alternative to confrontations and hostilities.


Israel and other regional and global actors need to concentrate on finding a political solution to the Palestine issue if they hope to see long-term peace and stability in the region. If the fundamental problem is not addressed, the military operations would merely be surface-level fixes.

Even though the potential outcomes of the Arab Peace Initiative are tested time and again due to recurring conflicts in West Asia, it is undoubtedly the cornerstone for the resurrection of normal and multilateral relations between Israel and the Arab World.




1 Comment

Ayush Shukla
Ayush Shukla
Nov 14, 2023

Wonderful read

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