As the violence spins out of control in the Middle East, here's a look at what papers in the region are saying about the proposal for peace (recognition of Israel by Arab countries in return for Israel's withdrawal from the Occupied Territories) being floated by Saudi Prince Abdullah.
Arab News(Saudi Arabia)
More Israelis have been killed during the brief and bloody tenure of the Sharon regime than during the combined terms of two previous prime ministers. Sharon has recently expressed a readiness to meet with anybody from Saudi Arabia "formally, informally, publicly, discreetly, whatever, to get better information about this initiative." But the move, propelled by increased public discontent with the ineffectiveness of his leadership, is a transparent effort to "not appear opposed to peace." In Israel, too, there are many who recognize that Crown Prince Abdullah's historic offer represents the last chance for peace in the region.
Middle East Times(Cairo)
Though intriguing and significant, a Saudi statement promising "full normalization" in exchange for the demands set out by Abdullah is almost surely not relevant in today's geopolitical context.
Regrettably, it is at least 19 months too late -- and probably six to seven years past the time when it could have made a difference in peace diplomacy. There was a time -- throughout the Rabin-Peres government -- when Israel advanced a concept of peacemaking based on the idea of peace with the inner circle of regional states, founded on territorial compromise with the Palestinians, so as to build a protective wall against the aggressive intentions of Iraq and Iran.
In the real world of politics and diplomacy, however, Abdullah's comments amount to a quaint irrelevancy -- too little, too late.
The Saudi plan may well have started out as more of a PR ploy, but (...) it is now up to the United States to lock in the proposal, make the Saudis feel as welcome as possible and ensure that they keep their seat at the negotiating table. There is nothing substantively new in suggesting a "land for peace" formula. But the Saudis possess financial swat because of their oil reserves, and religious influence in their role as guardian of Islam's two holiest sites.
Gulf News(United Arab Emirates)
Israel, having made appropriate noises in response to the Saudi peace initiative, is now out to strangle it. Its latest bloody incursions into Palestinian refugee camps are designed to distract from the fact that the initiative is gathering momentum. It is clear that Tel Aviv hopes there will be retaliation from the Palestinian side that can then be held up an example of what Israelis face.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's visit to Saudi Arabia this week could make or break Crown Prince Abdullah's peace initiative. Arab critics argue that Abdullah's timing was bad. Talk of normalization is a premature reward for Israel, which should be kept under pressure through the intifada, they say. Arab analysts say Syria fears the Saudi plan could be a lifeline for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who's now under fire at home for failing to end the uprising, ensure security for Israelis or bring peace. The timing of the Abdullah plan was important, as it provided a way to show the Israeli public an alternative to Sharon's policies.
As we count our dead, they count theirs. Now it appears that neither side has any intention of halting the spiralling violence. Without discounting the role of the Palestinian Authority, it is clear the Sharon government is doing nothing to stop the hostilities. Indeed, it is fanning the flames. The government's deeds and failures show that the fate of the state is to a large extent in the hands of unbalanced people.
The Star (Jordan)
We are confident that the Arab side would want to honour its side of the bargain. What we are also sure of is the Israeli government's inability to accept it. By accepting the principle of full land for full peace, Sharon's government would lose its reason for being. For the historic and bold Saudi proposal to have a chance, the Israeli public (...) should not trust Sharon and his radical ministers to make the decision for them.
The many voices claiming that there is no military solution are dead wrong. The non-military solution has another name: it is called surrender.
The Americans and their mendacious media bear the ultimate responsibility and guilt for Sharon's criminal onslaught against innocent people.