Arab League Summit Backs Abbas’s Stubbornness in Talks

March 23, 2014  

Arab League foreign ministers discussed talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) Sunday, and called on Arab states to provide
$100 million in financial aid to the PA every month, according to AFP. 

The League also rejected recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a key condition for Israel in talks. The official statement confirms a report by Al-Arabiya earlier this month saying Chairman Nabil Elaraby urged Arab countries to take a “firm stand” against Israel’s demand for the PA to recognize it as a Jewish state.

In February, the League also stated that there would be no peace without a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, and claimed that recent Israeli actions are intended to foil the peace process. The League recently mulled the idea of turning over the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – to the UN, to avoid Israel allowing Jewish worship there. 

So far, the Arab League has continued to back the stubbornness of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has consistently said that unless all his preconditions are met, there will be no peace with Israel. 

The PA has already formally refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state throughout talks, stating that “the Arab states will never recognize a Jewish state.” 

In addition, the PA Chairman will reportedly only agree to extend talks if Israel allows a “right of return” for Palestinian Arabs, free terrorist leaders, and withdraw from Judea and Samaria. 

Dealing with Syria

An Arab League draft resolution on the Syrian conflict, which entered its fourth year last week, urges the UN Security Council “to shoulder its responsibility” after the failure of Geneva peace talks between the regime and the opposition.

The leader of Syria’s opposition National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, has been invited to address the Arab summit.

But Syria’s seat in the Arab League remains vacant although the last annual summit, which was held in Doha, granted the seat to the country’s opposition. The Arab League said the opposition still needs to meet some legal preconditions in order to take up the seat.

Also Sunday, the League members said they agreed on the draft resolutions for a summit in Kuwait this week, despite deep rifts among member states.

“There was no tension whatsoever in the meeting. Host country Kuwait in fact has smoothed relations,” Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters at the end of a one-day meeting. “There were no controversial issues or problems, and the atmosphere was very positive,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar in protest of Doha’s perceived support for the Muslim Brotherhood, branded a terrorist organization by Cairo and Riyadh, but Zebari insisted: “The subject of the…withdrawal of ambassadors was never mentioned at all.”

Crises between Qatar and the three other Gulf states as well as Egypt were expected to be tackled during the ministerial meeting and also at the two-day summit starting Tuesday.

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, explained, however, that “Not all issues are discussed in the meeting hall. Some issues are debated on the sidelines behind the scenes.”

Arab League assistant secretary general for political affairs Fadhel Jawad has said the Arab leaders will hold a special session during the summit in a bid to sort out their differences.

Morocco’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Salahuddin Mezwar, said the ministers discussed efforts to combat international terrorism and ways to limit its impact on Arab countries.But he said Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood or whether to approve a new inter-Arab counter-terrorism pact were not discussed at the meeting.

Zebari said all draft resolutions were unanimously approved by Arab foreign ministers.

The ministers approved the basic charter of a Bahrain-based Arab human rights tribunal and recommended that the next summit be held in Egypt.

Tags: Syria, Temple Mount, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Muslim Brotherhood, Morocco, Egypt, peace talks, Syria civil war, PA-Israel, Jewish state

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