His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the summit in Algiers on Tuesday. Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied to the summit by a high-level delegation that included Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Court; Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy; Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, Minister of State and Dr. Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President. Image Credit: WAM

ALGIERS: Arab leaders said on Wednesday that the Palestinian cause was still central for them after their first summit meeting in three years.

The final declaration after the meeting in Algiers pledged continued Arab support for the Palestinian cause, said Jerusalem must be protected, condemned Israel’s use of violence against Palestinians and urged Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza.

They also called on on the United States to work with relevant parties to implement the two-state solution.

The leaders underlined the collective Arab and Islamic responsibility towards Jerusalem and their rejection of changing the legal and historical status of Islamic and Christian holy sites in the city.

They reaffirmed the need to enhance the joint Arab action with the aim of protecting the Arab security and their rejection of foreign interference in Arab countries’ affairs as well as the illegitimate existence of foreign forces.

The General Secretariate of the Arab league has been assigned to develop inter-Arab cooperation mechanisms to reinforce food and energy security and deal with climate challenges.

The leaders highlighted the continuous work to arrive at a political solution to the Yemeni crisis and reiterated their support for all efforts to end Libya’s crisis through a Libyan solution and the exit of all foreign mercenaries from Libyan territories.

They also highlighted the need for a collective Arab role in finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis and tackling all its political, economic and security repercussions.

Food and energy crisis

The summit’s discussions were also focused on the food and energy crises aggravated by Russia’s war in Ukraine that has had devastating consequences for Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, among other Arab countries, struggling to import enough wheat and fuel to satisfy their populations.

Arab leaders acknowledged the dire consequences of the Ukraine war for their nations and one after another called for a “collective Arab action’’ to face common challenges.

Those include food and energy shortages and the effects of climate change on their societies. But they presented no details on a potential mechanism that would help feed their people.

Deepening the crisis is the worst drought in several decades that has ravaged swaths of Somalia, one of the Arab League’s newer members, bringing some areas of the country to the brink of famine.

The Arab League summit provided an opportunity for Algeria — Africa’s largest country by territory — to showcase its leadership in the Arab world. Algeria is a major oil and gas producer and is perceived by European nations as a key supplier amid the global energy crisis that stems from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune vowed in his opening speech Tuesday to put forth considerable efforts at the summit to try to reaffirm support for the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel as the Arab and international communities’ attention shifts to other conflicts and crises.

“Our main and first cause, the mother of all causes, the Palestinian issue, will be at the heart of our concerns and our main priority,” Tebboune said. He blasted Israel for its “continued occupation’’ of Palestinian territories and “expanding its illegal settlements.’’

Last month, Algeria hosted talks in a bid to end the Palestinian political divide and reconcile the Fatah party, whose Palestinian Authority rules parts of the occupied West Bank, and the militant Hamas group, which has control of the Gaza Strip. The 22-member Arab League last held its summit in 2019, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.