Arab League heads of state in new drive for unity and cohesion

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi receives his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Tunis. (Reuters)
Updated 31 March 2019

Arab League heads of state in new drive for unity and cohesion

  • The Arab-Israeli conflict is expected to be at the top of the summit agenda on Sunday.

TUNIS: Maintaining unity, cohesion and solidarity in the face of multiple challenges will be the focus of Sunday’s Arab League summit in Tunis, diplomatic sources told Arab News.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who presided over the last summit and is leading the Saudi delegation, held talks on Saturday with Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. 

The Arab-Israeli conflict is expected to be at the top of the summit agenda on Sunday. 

Summit spokesman Mahmoud Al-Khmeiry said the heads of state would renew their commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, which proposes peace with Israel in exchange for full withdrawal from all lands occupied in 1967, but would reject any proposal that was not in line with UN resolutions.

This is expected to mean rejection of an as yet unannounced US peace plan by White House adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, which Palestinians have refused to discuss. The summit is expected to mobilize international support for full Palestinian membership in the UN.

The agenda also includes the war in Syria, developments in Libya and Yemen, a unified Arab stance on the violation of Iraqi sovereignty by Turkish forces, and support for peace and development in Sudan.

The summit will also discuss draft resolutions on Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab states, and the occupation by Iran of three islands off the coast of the UAE.

Israel strikes Hamas positions in Gaza over fire balloons

Updated 24 min 37 sec ago

Israel strikes Hamas positions in Gaza over fire balloons

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Wednesday it carried out overnight strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after incendiary balloons were launched across the border from the Palestinian enclave.
The army said the strikes were “retaliation” for the launching of multiple balloons from the Hamas-run enclave in recent days.
Jets, attack helicopters and tanks struck a number of Hamas targets including “underground infrastructure and observation posts,” a statement said.
Fire services in southern Israel said the balloons caused 60 fires on Tuesday alone but reported no casualties.
Explosives tied to balloons and kites first emerged as a weapon in Gaza during intense protests in 2018, when the makeshift devices drifted across the border daily, causing thousands of fires in Israeli farms and communities.
Israel has closed its Kerem Shalom goods crossing with the Gaza Strip in response to the recent balloon launches.
Hamas denounced the closure as an “aggressive” move that showed Israel’s “insistence on laying siege” to Gaza, and warned it could cause further worsening of the humanitarian situation in the territory.
As the Kerem Shalom crossing closed, the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened Tuesday for the first time since April.
Traffic in both directions was to be permitted for three days, allowing Gazans to leave the enclave for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The Rafah crossing provides Gaza’s sole access to the outside world not controlled by Israel.
The Palestinian territory has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
Despite a truce last year, backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.
Palestinian analysts say cross-border fire from Gaza is often used as a bargaining tool to secure Israel’s green light for the entry of Qatari financial aid into the territory.