Gulf & Middle East
Olmert hopeful of peace with Arab states
Apr 19, 2007 - 11:53:38 AM

Jerusalem, April 19 - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is hopeful of striking peace with Arab neighbours, saying some of them were showing 'first signs of understanding' towards the Jewish state.

'Israel is now seeing the first signs of understanding from countries that never had relations with us, who understand that Israel is a power whose existence cannot be ignored,' Olmert was quoted by Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper as saying in Jerusalem.

He added that there were also signs indicating Israel could manage to make progress on resolving the conflicts with its neighbours, especially with the Palestinians, in the coming year.

Olmert's remarks came as Arab foreign ministers Wednesday chose Egypt and Jordan to contact Israel and try to persuade it to accept an Arab peace initiative that was reactivated by the 19th Arab summit in Riyadh in late March.

The decision was made by 13 foreign ministers of the newly formed Arab peace initiative committee who met in Cairo along with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

The initiative, first approved by the Arab League in its 2002 Beirut summit, calls for Israel's pullout from Arab land occupied in the 1967 Middle East War and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in return for the normalization of ties with all Arab states.

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