Arab heads of state meet for the 28th Arab League summit on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan on Wednesday, With the exception of Syria, whose chair sits empty, all Arab states are participating in the annual event aiming to work on regional solutions to conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Syria while tackling extremism, poverty and worries over the new American administration. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: With a clear view of the Israeli-occupied West Bank on the opposite shore of the Dead Sea, leaders attending the Arab summit in Jordan took a unified position supporting the Palestinians in their long-standing conflict with Israel.

The two-day summit comes a few weeks ahead a scheduled visit to Washington by three Arab leaders, who are expected to discuss with US President Donald Trump several issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Arab League must gird for a new future

Political observers say ongoing wars that beset the region, coupled with extremism and terrorism were also among the poignant issues raised by the 21 Arab League leaders.

“(I believe that) the Palestinian cause, peace process, (Israeli) colonies (on the Palestinian lands), as well as terrorism and extremism were among the issues included in the speeches delivered so far,” Tariq Al Momani, President of Jordan Press Association, told Gulf News as he was attending the summit in the Dead Sea area.    

War, peace, stability

The wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq also topped the leaders' agenda, but leaders also discussed joint efforts to curb extremism and terrorism.

The summit’s draft resolutions, according to latest reports, condemn Israeli policies, including the policy of building of colonies "aimed at eliminating the two-state solution and replacing it with apartheid."

Jordan's King Abdullah II stressed at the summit that there could be no peace or stability in the region without setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Arab leaders also warned against moving diplomatic missions to contested Jerusalem, whose eastern sector is sought by the Palestinians as a capital.  

US President Donald Trump said earlier that he would move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but relocation no longer appears imminent.

Peace, normalisation plan

They are expected to reaffirm a 2002 Arab peace plan that offers Israel normalisation with Arab and Muslim countries for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Ghassan Khatib, a professor of political science at Birzeit University in the West Bank, was quoted as saying the summit is important to counter recent suggestions by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that reaching peace with the Palestinians must begin with a wider regional initiative.


Commenting on the Palestinian demands from the Arab countries, West-Bank based Palestinian analysts Hani Al Masri told Gulf News: “The minimum we ask for is not to submit to American and Israeli pressures”… and not to offer more concessions by normalising relations before achieving peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis.

Palestinians and Arabs, Al Masri stressed, must form an international front before talking to the Americans.

“We always like (talking with) the Americans and ignore the rest of the world. The Americans are biased towards Israel totally. We need to go to the rest of the world and form a front, and then we talk with the Americans,” Al Masri said in reference to European, Asian and African countries, which can support the Palestinians in their struggle for independence.

After the Arab summit, Jordan’s King Abdallah, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are scheduled to visit Washington for separate talks with President Trump.

Trump has not yet formulated a policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

However, he has suggested that the two-state solution, which is supported by the international community, is not the only option on the table.  His international envoy, Jason Greenblatt, held meetings with Abbas and the foreign ministers of Qatar and Egypt on the sidelines of the summit, press reports said.

With additional input from wires and Washington Post.