National Security Brief: Arab League Eases Demands In Plan For Middle East Peace

Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani, speaking on behalf of the Arab League, this week called for a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on Israel’s borders before the 1967 Six Day War. But for the first time, Al Thani said the Arab League would consider “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Tzipi Livni, Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator with the Palestinians, on Tuesday welcomed Al Thani’s announcement.

“Even during a period of ups and downs in the Arab world, they must achieve normalization with Israel when we achieve peace with the Palestinians,” she said. “It’s true that there is still a long way to go, and we can’t accept all the clauses [in the Arab initiative] as holy writ, but sometimes you need to look up over the difficulties and just say good news is welcome.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the announcement a “big step.”


We’re taking more steps,” Kerry said, “Yesterday was another step. And we’re going to continue to march forward and try to bring people to the table despite the difficulties and the disappointments of the past.”

In other news:

  • While President Obama is reportedly preparing to send arms to Syrian rebels, he also raised the bar for military intervention, saying that not only the U.S. but the international community must first agree that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime.
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey questioned whether military intervention would end the civil war in Syria. “Whether the military effect would produce the kind of outcome I think that not only members of Congress but all of us would desire — which is an end to the violence, some kind of political reconciliation among the parties and a stable Syria — that’s the reason I’ve been cautious about the application of the military instrument of power,” Dempsey said, adding, “It’s not clear to me that it would produce that outcome.”
  • McClatchy Newspapers reports: With the combat role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan tapering off, aircraft accidents emerged as the biggest killer of U.S. troops here during the first four months of the year. Since Jan. 1, 13 service members have been killed in five crashes.