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Relgion 101 Papal States

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There were mixed reactions among Arab states to a contentious Jordanian proposal, which aims to revise the long-standing Arab strategy to normalise relations with Israel by sidestepping direct reference to the Jewish state's return of occupied Arab territories.

But, Syria is expectedly raising concerns over the Jordanian plan, which drops specific references to Israel's return of Arab land seized during the 1967 Middle East war - including Syria's Golan Heights - as part of any full normalisation with the Arab state.

The proposal by Jordanian King Abd Allah II is expected to dominate the two-day Arab League summit starting on Monday as it aims to amend a Saudi Arabian-crafted strategy, which was endorsed by Arab leaders at a 2002 summit in Beirut.

The Saudi plan, known as the "Arab initiative," offered Israel full ties with Arab states in return for the handover of Arab territories, including the Palestinian West Bank and Syria's Golan Heights.


Arab foreign ministers convened on Saturday for official talks to finalize the two-day summit's agenda, which Abd Allah's proposal is expected to feature prominently on.

Damascus has reservations over

Jordan's proposal

An Arab delegate, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that 13 of the Arab League's 22 members are showing implicit support for the Jordanian proposal, which some see as a way to compel Israel to meet its requirements under the US-backed road map for regional peace.

Nine Arab states, including Syria, have reservations over the current draft.

Diplomats have asked the Jordanian and Palestinian foreign ministers to come up with a new drafting for Abd Allah's proposal in an apparent bid to make it acceptable to all sides.


Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait said on Saturday that Jordan wants to reword, not change, the 2002 Arab initiative to make it more easily understood by the

international community.

Syria is worried the draft effects

their right to the Golan Heights

"The Jordanians are saying that through their consultations with the international community they heard them saying that the Arab initiative is too long and has too many details," Abu al-Ghait told The Associated Press.

"This means that many of the international sides couldn't grasp the content of this initiative because of its length and its details."

Abu al-Ghait said any "rewording of the initiative ... will need a new Arab consensus. We might succeed in this." The Saudi-crafted Arab initiative calls for the Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syria's Golan Heights, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state and right of return of refugees.

Golan Heights fears

Abd Allah's omission of these conditions from his proposal suggests the king, whose country



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