Eight Point Fahd Plan, 1981

What was the Fahd Plan of 1981 and Fez Initiative of 1982?

The 1975 rise to power in Saudi Arabia of pro-American Crown Prince Fahd (who became king in 1982) created the possibility of a peace initiative backed by the wealthy and powerful Saudis with their strong identification with Arab interests. Any such plan would have to be taken seriously in the Arab world.

The Fahd Plan, proposed in 1981, was an eight point proposal to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and give the Palestinians an independent state. It received a mixed reception in Arab capitals, because it implicitly recognized Israel, but found support among European countries, anxious to secure their oil supplies. The US, at that time, was more interested in what became known as the Reagan Plan that kept Jordan in place as the sovereign in the West Bank.

The elements of the plan were familiar, and loosely based on UN Resolutions 242 and 338: Israel to withdraw from 1967-captured territories, including East Jerusalem (but not the whole city), dismantling of settlements, recognition of the PLO as the Palestinian representative, establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital, and secure guarantees of peace. Fahd's plan was not popular at home with the Saudi intelligentsia, middle class, and clergy who were strongly critical of any proposal that recognized Israel.

At the Twelfth Arab Summit Conference, held in Fez, Morocco September 9, 1982, the League of Arab States adopted a version of the Fahd plan, which became known as the Fez Initiative. King Hassan of Morocco was a key supporter of the plan and its provision that implicitly recognized Israel's right to exist. His support at Fez led to a formal visit by Israeli Prime Minister Perez in 1986.

The Fez Initiative came only a week after US President Reagan made public his own plan and was disappointing to the Americans. Behind the scenes, Washington had asked Saudi Arabia to work for a final resolution at Fez that would not attack the Reagan Plan and, preferably, would even endorse it, but the Fez summit did not give Jordan the hoped-for mandate to negotiate over the territories' future.

Still, there was optimism in Washington. Vice-President George Bush said the Fez resolution meant implicit Arab recognition of Israel. Secretary of State Shultz thought the Fez summit could be a "genuine breakthrough," and added: "There might be an implied recognition of Israel. I hope that is so." This mood faded after the Israeli expansion of their incursion into southern Lebanon in mid-September 1982 that led to a temporary cooling of relations between Israel and the US.

Israel rejected the Fez Initiative because it made all the usual demands of Israel but did not have anything new to provide for Israel's security. Still, it did represent a shift in Arab policy by a) its implicit recognition of Israel, and b) the possibility of negotiating a peace agreement of some sort, this a considerable change from the "three no's" of the Khartoum Resolution of 1967. Fez thereby opened the door, a little, to future negotiations and peace initiatives.

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