Arab-African relationship should not be affected by Israeli PM visit to Africa: Arab League chief

Ahram Online , Wednesday 6 Jul 2016

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit also criticised, in comments Wednesday, a Quartet report on the Palestine-Israel conflict that he deems imbalanced

Ahmed Aboul Gheit (Reuters)
Ahmed Aboul Gheit (Reuters)

Arab-African relationships should not be negatively affected by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s latest African tour, the head of the Arab League said Wednesday.

In a meeting with journalists in Cairo, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit described Arab-African relationships as “overall good.”

He pointed to the principled stances that the African Union has taken in support of the Palestinian cause in international forums and through binding decisions related to the cause, adding that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a permanent guest in all African summits.

Earlier this week, Israel’s Netanyahu visited Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya for a rare tour of sub-Saharan Africa that he deemed “historic.”

According to the Israeli prime minister's office, the four day trip comes as Israel launches a $13 million aid package to strengthen economic ties and cooperation with African countries.

Aboul Gheit said that the Israeli PM’s last tour in four African countries neighbouring the Arab region primarily aims to break the international isolation that Israel suffers from due to its continuing occupation of Arab lands as well as its racist practices.

He added that Israel was working on promoting itself as a country that is able to contribute in providing security and development to others.

Aboul-Gheit, who assumed office three days ago, replacing Nabil El-Arabi, stressed his trust that African countries who have fought for freedom understand the meaning of occupation and colonisation.

The former Egyptian foreign minister said he hopes that the countries visited by the Israeli premier would not allow the Israeli tour to be "a deduction from the credit earned" through their "deep and historical" support for Palestinian rights.

The Arab League chief also said he was disturbed by a recent International Quartet report and set of recommendations on the Palestine-Israel conflict, saying the report skewed the reality of the conflict.

On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the UN Security Council to reject the report by the Quartet that condemned both Israeli settlement building and Palestinian incitement to violence.

The report, published Friday by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, was criticised by both Israel and the Palestinians as being unfair.

It is to be presented for discussion at the UN Security Council in the coming weeks, though a date has not yet been set.

Aboul-Gheit said it was unacceptable and unrealistic that the side under occupation was being held to equal responsibilities as the occupying power.

He added that the report put the threat to Israel’s security above Israel’s settlement and destructive policies.

He elaborated that while the Palestinian side has commitments and obligations it must meet, any fair observer would acknowledge that the main responsibility falls on Israel, which has shown a complete absence of political will and where involved parties seek to damage the two state solution.

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