Netanyahu to Arabs: Saudi Plan Can Help Bring Peace

Prime Minister says Israel appreciates efforts by Arab states to advance 2002 peace initiative.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in comments addressed to the Arab world Thursday that a 2002 Saudi initiative could help efforts to reach a regional peace agreement.

"We appreciate the efforts by Arab states to advance the peace initiative," said Netanyahu. "If these proposals are not final, they can create an atmosphere in which a comprehensive peace can be reached."

The prime minister made the comments at a reception marking an Egyptian national holiday outside Tel Aviv.

He added: "We hope in the months ahead to forge peace with the Palestinians and to expand that into a vision of a broader regional peace."

The initiative, backed by all 22 members of the Arab League, offers Israel full normalization in return for a withdrawal from territory conquered in the 1967 Six Day War, a Palestinian state and an equitable solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

In June, Egyptian sources said that Egypt and Saudi Arabia had been threatening to rescind the Arab peace initiative, and pressuring U.S. President Barack Obama to set a two-year deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

They said Egyptian officials told Obama that the Arab peace initiative would crumble unless some real progress was made before the deadline.