Morocco King's Jewish Aide Urges Israel to Adopt Saudi Peace Plan

Andre Azoulay: Arab public views Israel as the party responsible for preventing peace, not the Arabs.

A Jewish adviser to Moroccan King Mohammed VI called on Israel on Tuesday to adopt the 2002 Saudi peace initiative, which offers Israel normalized relations with the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to the 1967 borders, and to advance the peace process with the Palestinians.

"I am a Jew with a commitment," said Andre Azoulay. "I'm an Arab Jew. I advise the king of Morocco... The Arab mainstream sees Israel as the party responsible for preventing peace, not the Arabs," he added, speaking at a conference marking ten years since the founding of President Shimon Peres' peace center, held in Tel Aviv this week.

Azoulay was recently appointed president of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures in Alexandria, Egypt, and he is soon scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Azoulay has been active in promoting dialogue between Arabs and Jews and between East and West for many years. He has visited Israel many times and met with countless senior Israeli officials over the years. He argues that his work to advance peace between Arabs and Jews is part of his duty and belief as a Jew.

In his address at the Peres Peace Center Tuesday, he spoke about his trips to Saudi Arabia, who drafted the peace initiative, and about Saudi King Abdullah's call for dialogue between Islam and Judaism. "This is a revolution," he said. "In the past, I visited Saudi Arabia but I was asked to hide the fact that I was Jewish. Today, that is over. The climate has changed completely."

In regard to the peace initiative, Azoulay said that it was an opportunity that the Israeli public must understand, warning that the current opportunity could be lost if not taken advantage of. "This is something that the Israelis hoped for ten years ago. But who knows about it in Israel today? Who will take the initiative and explain it? The momentum will not last forever. This is a dangerous situation. Tomorrow something could happen in the West Bank and blow the whole deal, and we'll have to wait again," he said.