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Arab League Summit Focuses On Palestine and Golan Heights, Arab Reconciliation Urged

The Arab League has rejected the recent recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights by the U.S. and reaffirmed the call for a Palestinian state following the recent killing of protestors in Gaza.

In a closing statement at the summit in Tunis, Arab leaders emphasised their “full support for Syria’s right” over the Golan Heights and reiterated their intent to “continue efforts to resume” negotiations for peace in Palestine.

Held amidst ongoing instability in the Arab world, Tunisia’s foreign minister Khemaies Jhinaoui called the continuing conflicts across North Africa and the Arabian peninsula as “unacceptable” and urged “Arab reconciliation” as the base point for improving stability.

Palestine

Jhinaoui stressed that the Palestinian cause was central to Arab issues and that Arab leaders were committed to solving the conflict, basing future efforts upon the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 whereby the Arab world would recognise Israel in exchange for a withdrawal to pre-1967 borders and the removal of occupying forces in the Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia meanwhile once again stated the nation’s support for a future Palestinian state, with King Abdullah of Jordan promising he would continue to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, laid the blame at the feet of the Americans for the continued occupation.

“Israel’s continuation of its racist policy, and the act of being a state above the law, would not have been possible without the support of the American administration”

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority

Diversions

Despite their statements, however, there was no announcement of further action by the Arab League and their proclamations were met with some scepticism by critics who feel that the focus on Palestine was a “public pleasing” attempt to divert attention away from internal conflicts as opposed to a genuine belief in action, The Arab League’s lack of effort over Palestine having come into question for some years.

With several states within the league already trying to normalise relations with Israel and allegations of deals between the Saudis and the apartheid state, Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of Jadaliyya was scathing in his assessment.

“Given that so many of today’s Arab governments are effectively beholden to foreign powers rather than their own citizens, there is now an attempt by the Trump administration to ostensibly rewrite international consensus on the resolutions of the question of Palestine – and for that matter the Arab-Israeli conflict – and using its enormous power to do so unilaterally. Over the past year, there have been consistent reports that the Trump administration has been doing so either with the cooperation with or with the acquiescence of key Arab states. The Arab League has conclusively and unambiguously demonstrated itself to be an obstacle to rather than an instrument of collective Arab action and promoter of Arab rights.”

Mouin Rabbani, co-editor of Jadaliyya, speaking to Al Jazeera

The reaction was certainly not all negative, however, nor were there no positive moves coming out of the summit, with the Palestine Liberation Organization welcoming the stated support for Palestine and the activation of a financial safety net which will enable Palestine to offset the removal of financial assistance from the Trump administration in the United States and ongoing attempts by Israel to impoverish the Palestinian people.

“There is no doubt that irresponsible US policies and actions have encouraged the Israeli political establishment, which is overrun by rightwing, racist, and hostile actors, to exercise unchecked violence against the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights, including their rights to life, freedom, and natural resources. The rightwing Israeli government has been enabled to escalate its grave violations of international law by the brazen complicity of the US administration, which has taken unprecedented steps to support and legitimize Israel’s illegal colonial occupation and annexation of Palestinian and Syrian land.”

Hanan Ashrawi, PLO

The PLO said that they “welcome the Arab League’s activation of the financial safety” and that they “welcome the reaffirmed Arab League’s rejection of Israel’s illegal actions” regarding occupied Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

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