Summit fails to please factions seeking armed reaction to Israel

 

PALESTINIANS FROM across the political spectrum yesterday dismissed the Arab summit which met in Libya at the weekend for failing to meet the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Khaled al-Batsh of the opposition Islamic Jihad condemned the Arab rulers’ decision to support the US attempt to restart talks between Palestinians and Israelis, while mainstream Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf criticised the Arabs for pledging only $500 million (€372 million) to aid Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Arab rulers denounced Israel’s policy of settling occupied East Jerusalem as a dangerous obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and extended their backing to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas who has refused to resume negotiations with Israel unless it freezes construction.

But the leaders stopped short of adopting the line advocated by Syria, Libya and dissident Palestinian factions which calls for a declaration that the peace process is dead and for resumption of armed resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa argued against dropping the Arab peace initiative, put forward in 2002, which proposed full normalisation with Israel in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories captured in 1967. Mr Moussa said the Arabs are “fed up” with Israel’s actions. “The ball is in the Israeli court.”

He warned the Arabs will have to decide “within the next few weeks whether to continue with negotiations or to completely shift course. If we find that Israel is not leaving the option of building two states, we are investigating the possibility of supporting the one-state solution” rejected by Israel.

The Arabs plan to hold an extraordinary summit in September with the aim of resolving issues not discussed in Libya, including cultivating closer ties with Iran and Turkey.