Arab leaders focus on resolving regional conflicts; affirm two-state solution for Palestinian issue in Jordan Summit

Reuters , AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 Mar 2017

At the Arab Summit in Jordan, the Palestinian cause has been high on the agenda as heads of Arab states aim to bolster inter-Arab cooperation

Arab League
(front R-L) Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz pose for a group photograph during the 28th Ordinary Summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan March 29, 2017. Reuters

Jordan's King Abdullah II has said peace would not be attained in the Middle East without the creation of a Palestinian state under a two-state solution that would be the basis of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal.

In his opening speech at the start of the 28th session of the Arab Summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea area, King Abdullah said: “We underline our firm stance from the Palestinian cause and condemn Israeli settler attacks on Jerusalem.” He added that Israel was wrecking the chances of peace by accelerating settlement building in occupied Palestinian territory.

King Abdullah, whose has custodianship over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, said any "unilateral" Israeli move to change the status quo in the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque would have a "catastrophic" impact on the future of the region.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who is attending the summit, said that “Two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the logical way forward.”

“Any change to the borders of 1967 should be by negotiations,” Mogherini said.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that Cairo aims to a reach peaceful and just agreement to establish a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

El-Sisi added that Cairo is working with all parties to revive the peace process.

Arab leaders are set to oppose plans by US President Donald Trump to move Washington's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as well as his considering alternatives to a Palestinian state.

A draft summit statement, drawn up by the Palestinian delegation, says the Arab League's members "reaffirm their commitment to the two-state solution," AFP reported.

It calls on all countries to respect UN Security Council resolutions that reject Israel's annexation of occupied East Jerusalem "and not to move their embassies" from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.

Since taking office in January, Trump has indicated he is willing to break with decades of US policy by moving the embassy and being open to a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met late Tuesday on the sidelines of the summit with Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt, who said on Twitter that it was a "very positive meeting" with "discussion on how to make tangible progress on peace."

Abbas is expected to visit the White House next month, after a visit by El-Sisi scheduled for 3 April. King Abdullah is also expected in Washington soon.

Warring conflicts

In addition to the Palestinian-Israeli conflcit, a range of other issues were tackled in the summit, including Syria, Yemen, continued unrest in Libya, and terrorism and efforts against the Islamic State (IS) group.

In a speech in front of the Arab Summit, Saudi Arabia's King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz said that his country supported a political settlement to the bloody six-year conflict in Syria based on UN Security Council resolutions.

Since its eruption in 2011, Syria’s civil war has left more than 320,000 dead and forced millions from their homes.

Most Arab leaders stressed that a political solution is the way forward to resolve the Syrian civil war.

The Saudi monarch said the Syrian people were subjected to "killing and displacement" but he did not refer to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

The monarch endorsed a political solution in the war-torn country based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva-based political process, while the Egyptian president hailed the resumption of the Geneva talks after an almost one-year hiatus.

Syria had its membership in the Arab League frozen in November 2011, with the Syrian government crackdown on opposition protests during the Arab Spring cited as the reason.

On the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s king called for a political solution that affirms the unity of the Yemeni people.

The Yemeni civil war broke out in September 2014 when Houthi rebels, who are Shia, took over the capital Sanaa and overthrew the country's government.

Pro-government forces have retaken large parts of Marib province from the Iran-backed Houthis since Saudi Arabia launched a coalition to intervene in support of President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi in March 2015.


Jordanian King Abdullah said that the biggest threat facing the Arab world is terrorism and radicalism.

Jordanian officials have stressed fighting "terrorism" as a major theme of the summit, in particular the threat from IS which is facing US-backed offensives in Iraq and Syria.

"Arab and Muslim countries must unite their efforts to combat terrorism," Abdullah said in his address.

The Egyptian president spoke about the challenges facing the region, shedding light on the fight against terrorism and the need for political solutions in countries ravaged by war.

"In recent years, the challenges have been concentrated on the outbreak of terrorism and the weakening of the real structure of the national state,” he said, adding that fighting terrorism — which he likened to a disease — was to be handled in a comprehensive manner.

“The solution has to be comprehensive, starting with a military solution and working on enhancing economic and living conditions in our countries and battling extremism through bolstering the roles of religious and educational institutions to be headed by Egypt’s Al-Azhar,” El-Sisi said, describing counter-terrorism as "not easy.”

The UN secretary general, who is attending the summit along with the UN Syria envoy, said that there should be cooperation between the UN and the pan-Arab organisation. The African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation were also present.

Only the head of state of Algeria, Oman and the United Arab Emirates are not present during the summit of the 22-member Arab League.

A “Declaration of Amman” is expected to be announced at the end of today, outlining Arab cooperation to face current challenges.

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