Arab League backs Palestinian president’s call to restart Mideast peace talks

The Arab League Council holds its 149th session at the level of foreign ministers in Cairo on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Arab League backs Palestinian president’s call to restart Mideast peace talks

CAIRO: The Arab League Council has supported the Palestinian president’s call to hold an international conference to relaunch the
Middle East peace process.
The resolution came at the end of its 149th session at the level of foreign ministers held on
Wednesday in Cairo.
The council confirmed its support for the peace plan presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Security Council on Feb. 20, and working to establish a multilateral international mechanism under the auspices of the UN to sponsor the process.
The council affirmed its rejection of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer its embassy there.
Arab foreign ministers also stressed their continued support for the constitutional legitimacy of the government in Yemen headed by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. It supported measures taken by the government aimed at normalizing the situation, ending the coup and restoring security and stability to all Yemeni governorates.
The council stressed its commitment to preserving Yemen’s unity and sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the rejection of any interference in its internal affairs.
The session was held under the chairmanship of Minister of State for African Countries Affairs Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Qattan, and in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Speaker of the Arab Parliament Dr. Mishal Al-Salami.
At a press conference, Qattan said that Saudi Arabia supported the continuation of the league’s role, pointing out that Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been seeking, since his appointment, to reform the league’s system. He said that the upcoming Arab summit in Riyadh would be an important and historic summit.
Qattan said that Iranian interference in Arab affairs had become a source of anger, and some Arab countries did not condemn Iran adequately and did not see the harm being done to Arab national security and the security of GCC.
“We heard blame for the decision for military intervention in Yemen,” he said. “We explained at length that it came at the request of the Yemeni government, stressing that the legitimate government must return to its place.”
Qattan said that Houthi missiles targeted the Kingdom’s cities and the two holy cities, and this was a red line. The Kingdom would defend its territory, even if this need continued for years and whatever the effort and cost, until its citizens felt safe.
He said that before the league’s council session, a meeting of the quartet involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain had issued a statement on Iranian interventions. This included a reference to the Iranian nuclear program.
“We in Saudi Arabia and the GCC and all Arab countries that have the same position will not be silent on what is happening,” he said, pointing out that the Iranians were fighting a proxy war that had succeeded in breaking up some Arab countries and but had not succeeded in GCC states.
Qattan said that “we have no objection to dialogue with Iran as a state, not with a militia, but it must first stop interfering in our internal affairs.”
On the Syrian issue, he said that it had not abided by the Security Council’s decision, resulting in the displacement of millions and the deaths of thousands.
Secretary-General Aboul Gheit said that the Arab League was the backbone of the Arab security system, and its role in defending Arab national security was provoking some neighboring countries.


Trump’s Mideast team meets Israel’s Netanyahu over peace plan

Updated 22 June 2018
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Trump’s Mideast team meets Israel’s Netanyahu over peace plan

JERUSALEM: President Donald Trump’s Mideast team met Friday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel as part of a visit with regional leaders to discuss the US plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The meeting comes shortly before the Trump administration is expected to unveil its Middle East peace plan. Trump has promised to pursue the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians. But the Palestinians are shunning the Americans since Trump’s policy shift recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv. Trump said at the time he is not taking a position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty that are to be determined in negotiations.
The White House issued a statement after Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner along with Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday afternoon in Jerusalem.
“They discussed the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel’s security. They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump Administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” it said. The statement gave no additional details.
Kushner has been leading efforts to broker a peace deal between the two sides. US officials have said the long-awaited peace plan is near completion and should be released this summer following several postponements. The Trump team met this week with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and other regional leaders.
Netanyahu issued a statement after the hours-long meeting in which he “expressed his gratitude for President Trump’s support for Israel.”
No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them.
The Palestinians were angered by Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the US Embassy there and have since rejected the US as peace broker. They see the decision as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict, arguing it disqualifies the US from its traditional role.
Details of the plan have not been released, but Palestinians fear they will get little more than a symbolic foothold in Jerusalem.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to key sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, in the 1967 war from Jordan. Palestinians claim the territory for its future capital. Israel claims the entire city as its eternal capital.
The fate of the city is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict.