Israel Middle East peace process

Hope for Palestinian refugees…and Israel?

Who knows if the following “exclusive” from today’s Yediot Aharonot is true? Someone somewhere in the Saudi Arabian power structure wants it to be true. That alone is reason for a tiny bit of hope. Translation that follows is courtesy of Israel News Today:

by Smadar Peri

Exclusive: In secret talks held prior to the Riyadh summit, a new diplomatic-economic initiative was drawn up for solving the problem of the Palestinian refugees: Granting monetary compensation to those who agree to remain in their countries of residence.

Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the secret talks, which were led by senior US officials, included Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington and senior Israeli officials. Refugees who give their consent to continue to live in their host countries would receive monetary compensation.

Those who demand to exercise the right of return would only be allowed to return to the territories, but their return would be coordinated with the PA leadership in order to prevent a mass influx and severe economic problems.

In conjunction, Saudi Arabia, the oil emirates in the Gulf and the US administration would finance projects to improve the refugees’ quality of life and to create jobs for them. This is an ambitious plan that would require funding in the amount of several dozen billions of

Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the Bush administration pressured Saudi Arabia-due to its extensive ties in the Arab world-to host the summit, after King Abdullah had already conceded the summit and it was slated to be held in Egypt. In this case, the interests of the Americans coincided with those of the Saudis, who fear Iran, and so the “Arab Quartet” was formed, the Saudi initiative was revived and the secret talks coalesced into a compensation plan for the refugees.

The details of the plan will not be revealed in the summary statement of the summit, and it will be said only that “the solution will be carried out by consent, while respecting the right to security of all the involved parties.”

It is believed that the leader of Libya, who is boycotting the summit, will oppose the plan. Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees live in Libya, and Gaddafi could threaten to deport them. The position of Syria, where over 200,000 refugees live, is also unknown at present. The new plan gives priority to dealing with the 300,000 refugees in Lebanon, whose situation was defined as “the worst.” Jordan, which hosts the most refugees (over a million and a half), and several emirates have already announced their consent to the plan.

As of this morning, the four million residents of the Saudi capital are under siege, and this will only end on Friday afternoon. Thousands of soldiers and police officers are patrolling in every corner, since the Saudis have immediate warnings of preparations for terror attacks. Bin Laden’s deputy has already voiced great dissatisfaction with the “peace meeting with Israel,” and Iran, whose president was not invited, might also try to spoil the summit….

…The results of the summit are already known: 20 topics will be raised for discussion, including Iraq, Lebanon, the Iranian threat and Islamic terror, poverty and unemployment. But the main issue on the table will be the Saudi peace plan.

From this morning, the diplomatic ball will be in the Israeli court: Israel will be called upon to agree to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, to commit to a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and to say yes to an “agreed-upon”solution to the refugee problem.

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