Manama: The status of occupied Jerusalem and support for the Palestinians; Iran’s threats to security and peace in the region; the Al Houthi menace; developments in the Middle East; and the situation in Syria were among the hot issues discussed by the seven Arab leaders who addressed the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran on Sunday.
According to Saudi news site Sabq, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa, Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 5,682 words expressed the concerns and aspirations of the Arab world.
Occupied Jerusalem was the most prominent issue for Arab leaders, who called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and rejected the US administration’s decision to transfer the American embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. They said the decision would undermine global efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
King Salman’s epitomised the Arab reaction when he renamed the annual gathering the ‘Jerusalem Summit’, and announced that Palestine was and will remain the top Arab cause until Palestinians obtain their rights, including an independent state of their own with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In veiled references to Turkey and Iran, Al Sissi highlighted the menace emanating from the two non-Arab regional powers. “We meet today and the army of a regional country is deployed in two Arab states, in an obvious occupation of their territories. There are meetings to determine the fate of [Syria] and end the fierce civil war, which claimed the lives of more than half a million Syrians, without the participation of any Arab party, as if the destiny of the Syrian people and its future are subject to the game of nations and to the balance of regional and international powers,” he said.
“At the same time, another regional party, attracted by the instability that has hit the region in recent years, is building up zones of influence by exploiting its local forces in more than one Arab country. Unfortunately, honesty demands that we say that there are brothers who were implicated in a conspiracy with these regional parties and in supporting and financing sectarian and terrorist organisations.”
In his speech, King Hamad reiterated Bahrain’s steadfast stance in support of the Palestinian people and a fair and comprehensive peace that leads to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.
Abbas warned there were dangers lurking around Palestine and that hundreds of resolutions and decisions by the General Assembly and Security Council have not been implemented.
The Palestinian leader wondered until when Israel would be allowed to act beyond and above the law and responsibilities.
None of the 705 decisions made by the General Assembly and the 86 resolutions adopted by the Security Council had been implemented, he said.
Shaikh Sabah warned that “the skies of the Arab nation are overcast and joint action was stagnant, if not paralysed, at times”. He added, “We look forward to the transition from the state of despair to a state of hope and optimism ... and therefore we are called upon to make a concerted effort to resolve the differences that are afflicting the Arab world, and this a challenge to all of us. [These differences] weaken our cohesion and ability to face the increasing challenges and risks,” he said.
Arab leaders also stressed threats from Iran to international security and peace, and called on the international community to adopt the necessary security and military measures to confront them and to deal with Tehran’s expansionist schemes.
The speeches also called for a prompt solution to the Syrian conflict, demanding the international community rise to its commitments to preserve the country’s territorial integrity and the safety of its people and to enable the Syrian refugees to go home.
The Yemeni president said the summit offered a new opportunity to re-take the initiative and work on improving the situation in the Arab world and ensuring greater cohesion among Arabs in order to confront Iran’s blatant interference in the region, mainly in Yemen and Bahrain.