Arab Summit: ‘Arabs lost confidence in their leaders’

The summit will do little to end the conflicts in the region, analysts say.

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Jordan King Abdullah II (R) receives Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi upon his arrival in Jordan, which is hosting the summit of Arab leaders on March 29 [EPA]


Arab leaders are convening near the Jordanian Dead Sea for the 28th annual summit of the Arab League, as the region faces distressing turmoil and political challenges.

Sixteen heads of states out of the 22-member confederation of Arab countries are expected to attend Wednesday’s meeting, including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria will also be present, along with US and Russian envoys. Jordan’s King Abdullah II will be leading the summit.

Highest on the agenda is the  Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been left on the back burner as repeated attempts to revive the remnants of a peace process have failed and the situation on the ground becomes ever more difficult to resolve.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, said the Palestinian Authority may introduce a new peace initiative in the summit, but Palestinian officials were quick to deny such claims.

The Arab League, according to analysts, is expected to revive the 15-year-old Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed in the Lebanese capital Beirut in 2002. The initiative calls for full Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, West Bank and the Golan Heights, in return for “normal relations” betweenIsrael and the Arab states.

The initiative also calls for a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugee problem, in accordance with UN resolution 194, which endorses giving Palestinian refugees the option to return to their homes or to accept compensation instead.

The crises [in the Arab world] have turned into international conflicts, and the Arab League is incapable of making any decisions.

Hamzeh al-Mustafa, researcher, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies

But with a new US administration under President Donald Trump, analysts say US effortsto bring key Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, into a new framework for peace could be “dangerous” for the Palestinian cause.

Trump has been vague on his plans for any peace deal between Israel and Palestine, but rocked the boat when he dropped the two-state solution as the only solution for a future peace, considered a major shift in US policy.

Next month, Trump is expected to meet with Sisi and Abbas in Washington, DC.

“In light of what some Arab leaders described as a joint vision with [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu for a regional approach to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I fear that a new modality for the Arab Peace Initiative might be put on the table (explicitly or implicitly),” Alaa Tartir, programme director at Al Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, told Al Jazeera.

“This new modality will be dangerous as it would aim for an explicit normalisation with Israel before it ends its occupation, return to futile and absurd negotiations, and give up some fundamental Palestinian rights, such as the right of return,” said Tartir.

In meetings a day prior to the summit, US envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, said on Twitter he had a “constructive discussion” with Aboul Gheit, on paths forward for an Israeli-Palestinian peace and “comprehensive peace in the region”.

Encouraged by a friendly Trump administration, Netanyahu has acted with impunity, sanctioning more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, stirring fears of what a potential peace deal could look like.



Source: Al Jazeera News

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