Jubeir: ‘Jerusalem Summit’ confirms Arab world’s dedication to Palestinian cause

Jubeir: ‘Jerusalem Summit’ confirms Arab world’s dedication to Palestinian cause
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that naming this year’s Arab League Summit also as the “Jerusalem Summit” was due to the strong desire to promote the Palestinian cause. (SPA)
Updated 16 April 2018

Jubeir: ‘Jerusalem Summit’ confirms Arab world’s dedication to Palestinian cause

Jubeir: ‘Jerusalem Summit’ confirms Arab world’s dedication to Palestinian cause
  • Jubeir said that the Palestinian people have suffered the longest conflict in the region, which has led into the displacement of millions
  • In response to the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he said “We have declared our clear position to the United States that East Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that naming this year’s Arab League Summit also as the “Jerusalem Summit” was due to the strong desire to promote the Palestinian cause, which was a central and fundamental issue for Arabs.

In a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit following the conclusion of the summit, Jubeir said: “The Arab and Islamic countries feel the need to highlight this issue in light of the urgent need to help the Palestinians to obtain their legitimate rights, foremost of which is the establishment of their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Jubeir said that the Palestinian people have suffered the longest conflict in the region, which has led into the displacement of millions. He emphasized the need for Palestinians to have their own state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, so that they can live a decent life and build their country, adding that Arab and Islamic nations feel the pain of their Palestinian brothers.

“There is a desire to highlight the issue on the agenda of the Arab League and in the mind of the Arab and Islamic world, and in light of the conflicts and crises witnessed by the Arab world, we must not forget that it is the fundamental issue,” Jubeir said, and added that Saudi Arabia’s position was permanent and firm on the Palestinian issue and remained supportive on the peace initiative announced in 2002.

In response to the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he said: “We have declared our clear position to the United States that East Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine and that no decision should be taken that violates this balance in this region.”

However, Jubeir reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s “close relations” with the US.

“We have a strategic relationship and are stronger now. As friends, we continue dialogue and understanding on matters that we disagree with the administration of US President Donald Trump and this administration has also been positive in seeking help and reaching a dialogue on this matter.”

The foreign minister pointed out Saudi Arabia’s support to Palestine and contributions to achieving a decent life for the Palestinian people and enabling the Palestinian government to strengthen its economy.

During the 29th Arab League summit, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced that the Kingdom will donate $150 million to the Endowment Support Program in Jerusalem and $50 million to support the UNRWA program.

Meanwhile, Jubeir said that the Arab summit supported the operation and the military strike carried out by the United States in cooperation with Britain and France on Syrian regime sites that carried out attacks against unarmed Syrian civilians through the use of weapons containing poison gas banned internationally.

He stressed the position of the Member States of the League of Arab States and the belief that stability in Syria would only be achieved through a peaceful solution based on the Geneva Declaration, Security Council resolution 2254 and the Riyadh II Conference of the Syrian opposition held in November last year.


UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts
Updated 23 January 2021

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts

UN envoy calls for greater sense of urgency in Syrian peace efforts
  • Geir Pederson wants enhanced international diplomacy, and tighter focus on progress in drafting new constitution
  • The fifth session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee begins in Geneva on Monday

NEW YORK: Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, on Friday called for “more serious and cooperative” international diplomacy as part of political efforts to improve the lives of the Syrian people and develop a vision for the future of their country.

Speaking ahead of the fifth session of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which begins on Monday in Geneva, he also urged committee members to focus their efforts and work more effectively to speed up progress on constitutional reform.

Pedersen expressed hope that much-needed international engagement with the peace process is now possible.

“After all, despite the differences, key states are continuing to reaffirm their commitment to Resolution 2254,” he added, referring to the UN Security Council resolution, adopted in 2015, that calls for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.

Pedersen, who briefed the Security Council this week on the latest developments, highlighted the fact that five foreign armies are active in Syria and “violations of Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity (have been) going on for years.”

Although the ceasefire agreement reached by Russia and Turkey in the northwest of the country resulted in a de-escalation of hostilities, Pedersen warned that this relative calm remains fragile.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) 

“All of these issues cannot be sorted out by the Syrians alone,” he said. (They) need an international cooperation (and) a real exchange of views (among all parties).

“If that political will is lacking it would be very, very difficult to move this process forward ... if you leave this to the UN alone, we will not be able to succeed.”

Top on the agenda on Monday will be discussion of the basic principles of the Syrian constitution. Pedersen said he has been meeting with the two co-chairs of the committee on a regular basis, and has also had intensive discussions with the “Middle Third” civil-society group, which includes society activists and experts and other independents from inside and outside of Syria.

His experiences during the past year, he said, lead him to believe there is potential for finding common ground. No single actor or group of actors can impose its will on Syria or settle the conflict alone — they must work together, he added.

The time has now come for the co-chairs of the Constitutional Committee to organize and focus its efforts by establishing “more effective and operational working methods,” Pedersen said, so that they can begin to move forward from preparing constitutional reforms to actually drafting them, and agreeing on clear agendas and discussion topics for future meetings.

“There needs to be more urgency (in) delivering progress in this process,” he added.

As he saluted the work of civil society groups and “all the Syrians who do what they can to improve the situation on the ground and support a political process,” Pedersen singled out women in particular for praise. He has been particularly proactive in seeking input from the Women’s Advisory Board.

“It is a priority for all of us to make sure that we have full participation of Syrian women in the political process,” he said. “(Promoting) their core constitutional rights is central for me, as the facilitator of the work of the Constitutional Committee.”

Asked about plans for large-scale prisoner swaps, Pedersen said that although this is not on the agenda for the talks in Geneva this week, it is always part of his own agenda. The disappointment over the lack of progress on the issue so far means “that we should work even harder” on it, he added.

“This is a file that really has an impact on nearly every Syrian family, and it needs to be addressed,” he said. “(I) have appealed (for) more information on the missing. (We) need to see the early release of women, children, the elderly and the sick, and I think (nothing) should stop that from happening.”

The members of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee are due to arrive in Geneva on Saturday, and Pedersen will consult with the co-chairs over the weekend before the main talks begin on Monday.

Asked whether he expects this latest round of negotiations to be a success for the UN, Pedersen said: “I really do not think this is the question; the question (is) whether it is a success for the Syrian people and (their) aspirations.

“My hope has been that the Constitutional Committee, if it is handled in the correct manner, could start to build trust and (be) a door-opener for a broader political process.

“But the (committee) cannot work in isolation ... we need political will from the different parties to be able to move forward.”

He added: “The (committee) is just one aspect, and it is not the one aspect that will solve the Syrian crisis. If we are to see changes in the situation on the ground, there are other factors that need to be discussed.”