Arab League rejects American decision on Israeli settlements

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (C) attends an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on November 25, 2019, to discuss the US decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements in Palestinian Territories illegal. (AFP)
Updated 26 November 2019

Arab League rejects American decision on Israeli settlements

  • Ministers says move was a threat to peace and a flagrant violation of international law
  • Arab League said the US position shows ‘unprecedented disdain for the international system’

CAIRO: Arab League foreign ministers on Monday denounced the announcement by the US that it no longer considers Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank to be a violation of international law.

During an emergency meeting in Cairo, a week after the announcement by the Trump administration, League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit described the decision as “unfairly biased and unacceptable.” He added that the US had forfeited its role as a neutral arbiter between Israel and the Palestinians.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan reaffirmed the Kingdom’s rejection of the US position, and stressed the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue. Solving this is the cornerstone of achieving lasting peace, he added.

The Palestinian issue is at the heart of King Salman, the minister pointed out, adding that Saudi Arabia would continue to support the Palestinian cause.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the League’s foreign ministers expressed their “condemnation and rejection of the US decision.” It “has no legal effect and is a clear violation of UN resolutions,” they added.

Aboul Gheit said that all Arab states should hold extensive discussions with Washington in an attempt to persuade the US administration to reconsider its decision.

He pointed out that the announcement shows a blatant disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying force from moving parts of its civilian population to the lands under occupation. Therefore, he added, it damages Washington’s moral legitimacy and its credibility as a power that respects and enforces international law.

The overwhelming international consensus about the illegal nature of the settlements, Aboul Gheit said, means that the US announcement is no more than an individual opinion that follows the principle that power creates its own justice. This is a dangerous, widely rejected idea that calls into question the values of anyone who adopts or defends such a principle, he added

On Nov. 18, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem illegal. He said that after legal consultation, Washington had concluded the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

This reversal of decades of US policy came nearly two years after President Donald Trump overturned another long-standing US policy by recognizing the contested holy city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, prompting anger from Palestinians and Arabs.

After Pompeo’s announcement, the Arab League described the US shift as “an extremely adverse development.” Saudi cabinet ministers responded to the decision last week by calling on the international community to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and confront Israel for its violations of international laws.

The UN human rights office has said the Israeli settlements remain in breach of international law, echoing a position taken by the International Court of Justice in an advisory opinion in 2004.

Palestinians say the settlements jeopardize their goal of the establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

Updated 12 August 2020

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

  • The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention

CAIRO: The fate of at least 35 Egyptian fishermen hangs in the balance after they were arrested by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Nov. 2 last year.  

The families of the fishermen have appealed to the Egyptian government to step up their efforts to secure their freedom as Cairo has been working on their release since November.

Little is known about the fate of the fishermen in Libya other than their location, after it was leaked to Egyptian authorities that they were held in the Turmina Prison, which is affiliated with the GNA.

The head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate in Kafr El-Sheikh, Ahmed Nassar, said they had not been able to communicate with the fishermen since last November and after their disappearance they came to learn that the GNA authorities had detained them.

The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention. Nassar said that the fishermen were not fishing in Libyan territory without a permit.

Nassar explained that the fishermen were working on Libyan boats. Alongside them were a number of colleagues working on boats that belong to the Al-Wefaq government. They were not approached by anyone unlike their detained colleagues who were arrested and sent to prison without being charged with any crime.

The Fishermen’s Syndicate chief said that people had called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the government, and the consular section had also been contacted about the matter.

Many of the detained fishermen come from Kafr El-Sheikh, while others come from Abu Qir in the governorate of Alexandria.

The fishermen had been supporting families of up to eight members.

Egyptian authorities say they are exerting great efforts to bring the fishermen back safely, while the fishermen’s families continue to demand safety and justice for the men.