Chance for change
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The sad spectacle of the truncated "summit" of Arab leaders in the Mauritanian capital Monday was even more embarrassing than usual for this recurring event.If there is a genuine will among Arab societies – citizens and governments – to work collectively on issues of common concern, then Arab summits need to be radically reconfigured to achieve that sensible goal.These structural faults in Arab governance are magnified when leaders behave in the erratic manner that defines most recent Arab summit gatherings. Even when they say something sensible – such as the Mauritanian president's call for fresh efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because regional instability would continue until it was resolved – the Arab leaders leave this hanging in the air without any credible follow-up action. This is also hampered by our not really knowing very clearly whether Arab populations want to make war or peace with Israel, support or help lay siege to Palestinians, isolate or normalize relations with Israel in its current state, or collectively shape and push an international campaign to achieve a negotiated, fair peace with Israel based on the 2002 Arab Peace Plan that itself emerged from an Arab summit.
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