Leaders reaffirm support for Palestinian state at Arab summit

Jordanian King Abdullah II said at the 28th summit of the Arab League that there will be no peace or stability in the Middle East without reaching a comprehensive solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Leaders and representatives from 18 countries attended the Arab League meeting in Jordan, March 29, 2017.

Updated Mar 30, 2017

Arab leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state under a two-state solution at the 28th Arab League summit in Jordan on Wednesday.

The statement came after weeks of heightened unease over the stance of the United States under the new administration of President Donald Trump. 

Opening the one-day summit in the Dead Sea region, Jordanian King Abdullah said there would be no peace or stability in the Middle East without solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"Israel continues to expand settlements and undermine chances for achieving peace," Abdullah said. "There will be no peace or stability without reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue," he added.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, Trump said he would be open to a one-state solution, upending a position taken by successive administrations and the international community.

“I am looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like … I can live with either one, ” he said.

The representatives of 18 Arab countries did not publicly refer to Trump or his ambiguous statements but they underlined that they would support the two-state solution for the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to meet with Trump in Washington next month.

No common ground on other issues

The biggest disagreement among Arab countries during the summit was the ongoing conflict in Syria which has killed more than 320,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

Arab nations failed to find a common ground on Syria as they are supporting different factions in the conflict. They also have different expectations about Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad's future.

While some say Assad must go for any peace deal, others, including Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, have not insisted on his departure as a condition for a political agreement.

They also had an opportunity to discuss issues impacting the region and the conflicts in Yemen and Libya. However, Iran remained the focal point of concern for the countries.

Yemen's embattled president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi launched a scathing verbal attack on Iran at the summit. Iran is pursuing expansionist policies to destroy the Arab identity, Hadi said, calling the country "the true sponsor of terrorism".

Hadi's troops, backed by a Saudi-led international military coalition of mostly Arab states, have been fighting against Houthi rebels in the conflict which escalated in 2015. The Houthis support former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran has been accused of supporting Houthis because of similar Shia beliefs.

UN chief calls for more dialogue

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Arab leaders that their internal divisions have opened the door to foreign intervention and have helped breed sectarianism and terrorism.

Guterres said that while fighting terrorism is essential, "any success will prove ephemeral" without a political solution to Syria's six-year-old civil war that allows Syrians to decide their own fate.

Efforts to end conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya must "not distract us from seeking to heal the longest open wound in the region, the plight of the Palestinian people," Guterres said.

He said setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel is the only solution to the conflict. Israeli settlements on war-won land are illegal, the UN secretary general said, calling on Israel to halt construction.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies