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June 2013

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Arab Peace Must Come First
By Ahmed Charai, publisher of L’Observateur
http://nationalinterest.org/print/commentary/arab-peace-must-come-first-8507
Reviewed by Norvell DeAtkine

The author, publisher of Morocco’s weekly newspaper, makes an important and often forgotten point in his article. There can be no Arab-Israeli peace accord until the Arabs make peace among themselves. Though Charai indicates his hopes for a new “Arab peace initiative” being promoted by Secretary of State John Kerry, he admits that the new proposal is a recasting of the 2002 proposal broached by the Saudis, which floundered on the objections of both the Israeli government and the Palestinian authorities.

In this case, however, the author believes that while the proposal is not new, the governments pushing it are. While the Saudis pushed the 2002 proposal, Qatar is advocating this new one. Qatar, having better rapport with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and the Hamas rulers of Gaza, will be in a better position to win overall Arab support.

Not surprisingly, the author nominates the ruler of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, as lead negotiator in the coming consultations. He cites the King’s personal rapport with most Arab states, as well as the trust of the Israelis. His moderate policies, both domestically and in the international arena, identify him as the ideal negotiator to begin solving this “century-old conflict.” The relatively better treatment of Moroccan Jews—resident in Morocco for centuries—by the Alaouite dynasty gives the King credibility among the Israelis.

The article, well intentioned as it may be, is nevertheless littered with caveats like “if,” “hope,” “perhaps,” and “may.” The author could hardly write otherwise, given the bleak history of   Arab unity efforts and the fact that since the days of the   Nashashibi-Husayni clan rivalry the Palestinians have never presented a united front. As the Iraqi scholar Abbas Kelidar once wrote, nothing so divides the Arabs as the question of unity.bluestar

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